First off, sorry for the lack of new blog posts. In all honesty, there wasn’t much to talk about. I could talk about the Pusha T vs. YMCMB beef but it’s quite pointless. Pusha T is wasting time trying to get a reaction from Drake and Wayne is wasting lives trying to prove he knows what beef is. I could talk about 50’s new mixtape, but I’m gonna wait for his album. But now I see that hip hop is starting to get a good groove on for me to make some reviews. I have heard a lot of noteworthy joints in the past few days. So, expect to see back-to-back-to-back reviews of Big KRIT’s Live From The Underground, David Banner’s Sex, Drugs, and Video Games, and Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music.
The South rules hip hop. That’s a known fact no matter how many people try to dismiss it. Despite the fact that the lack of creativity and commercialization in hip hop could be blamed on the South, the region has kept hip hop relevant. In fact, rappers from other regions these days take a few notes from the Southern rappers to achieve success in the mainstream. The South rules hip hop. But who rules the South?
T.I.? He hasn’t made an impact for years now. Ludacris? He isn’t as dope as he used to be. Jeezy? He doesn’t have hot singles. Weezy? Plausible but inconsistent. In answer to the question, it isn’t really a who but a what: trap music definitely rules the South and virtually all of hip hop. One new guess has been a clean cut backpack rapper from Mississippi named Big KRIT who dreams of making it big. Odd choice considering he has no criminal background or even the trap music style of the popular Southern rappers out there. Plus, he isn’t a lyrically superb dude. But there has been an undeniable persistence that he has maintained that has turned naysayers into believers. And he has some really dope production and seems to be capable of making a full-length cohesive album, as shown with his breakout mixtapes, KRIT Wuz Here and Returnof4eva.
Live from the Underground sounds like a proper sequel to Returnof4eva, unlike the uneven 4evaNaDay mixtape. The influence of Aquemini looms large especially in the opening two tracks. But further into the album, hints of UGK and Goodie Mob become prominent, showing the versatility of KRIT’s sound. The first half of the album is more reminiscent of the typical Southern material. Unfortunately it is inconsistent with some highlights (“Money on the Floor”, “Live from the Underground”), some “almost-there” (“Cool 2 Be Southern”, “I Got This”), and a couple flat out misses (“What U Mean”. “My Sub (Pt 2: The Jackin’)”). “What U Mean” in particular is a disappointment because even though it is designed to be a filler track, it isn’t even one worth listening to more than a couple times. Ludacris, in particular, never sounded so out-of-touch as he was on that track.
The second half is the beacon of hope that keeps interest alive as it is here where the album really shines. It might also be the more poppish side of the album but KRIT manages to keep within his Southern roots and not pander to overt mainstream material, case in point the Melanie Fiona-featuring “If I Fall”. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” details KRIT’s recount of his father’s advice about coming up (“Thank God for the condoms that my papa gave me/ Cause a convo about the birds and the bees wouldn’t save me”). “Praying Man” is a part jazz, part psychedelic collection of stories about finding hope when left behind. And the ending reprise of the title track summarizes the whole metaphor being presented in the album: how people feel “chained” by expectations and need to find a way out (Underground Railroad).
But the album would sound even more amazing if its lead artist had more lyrical punch because KRIT tends to have very generic bars. Though he does sound sincere, it isn’t enough to carry the album or his career to greater heights. What’s worse is that his guest features (save for Ludacris) stand out better than him. “Porchlight” ends up sounding like an Anthony Hamilton track and on “Hydroplaning”, Devin the Dude kills his verse enough to make it look like he made the song first. So when considering this aspect, it is impossible to think that KRIT could be the new King of the South.
But even T.I. wasn’t considered much when I’m Serious was released.