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10 January, 2015@2:30 pm

Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. has steadily been making a name for himself over the last few years, through a series of critically acclaimed self-made mixtape/street albums, which found him taking on the role of each rapper, singer, and producer. This led to a deal with Def Jam, with his 2013 debut for the label, Live From The Underground. While a solid album, K.R.I.T. had to adapt to the new rules of the major label system, such as going for commercial appeal and restrictions on the amount of samples he could use. In truth, his unfiltered mixtape releases were stronger.

Perhaps K.R.I.T. realized this, which made him try even harder one year later with his second LP for the label, Cadillactica. He has adjusted to life as an almost famous rap star, but rather than pander to the mainstream, he’s gone far off the grid. In fact, he’s created his own planet.

Cadillactica is the name of that planet, represented here in a brilliantly laid out concept album that finds K.R.I.T. adapting to the challenges presented by his new role as a Def Jam ambassador. The title itself – a mashup of the words “Cadillac” and “Galactica” is an obvious nod to Outkast albums like Southernplayalisticadillacmusic, ATLiens, and Aquemini. He also crowns himself royalty on “King Of The South,” much like a young T.I. once did some years ago. While putting himself in the same box as Outkast and going for Tip’s crown are both very bold moves, Cadillactica is light years ahead of what most anyone is currently doing in the region.

But K.R.I.T. realizes that these titles and designations ultimately mean nothing, as he addresses on “Mt. Olympus,” in the wake of Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse. Not one to hold his tongue, he fires off about industry double standards lamenting, “Rap battlin’ never got me out of no public housin’ / You tellin’ me I can be King of Hip-Hop / And they wouldn’t give it to Andre 3000?”

But the Outkast comparisons are just, as K.R.I.T. carries the torch for the fully realized Southern rap album, balancing out his more base hobbies with high concepts. These aren’t songs just about strippers (“Pay Attention”), speakers (“My Sub, Pt. 3 (Big Bang)”), or cars (“Do You Love Me”), as he delivers well thought out extended metaphors for each. Arguably the best of these is “Soul Food” with Raphael Saadiq, which at surface value is an ode to grits and collard greens, but in actuality is a deeper exploration of broken home life. In essence, K.R.I.T.’s got the market cornered on intelligent rap think pieces with a Southern country drawl.

And just when K.R.I.T. may be getting too heavy handed, he balances things out with 808 trunk rattlers like the title track “Cadillactica,” “King Of The South” or the incredible Best Buy bonus track “Let It Show.” Yet he doesn’t waste his breath, dropping thought-provoking rhymes over bass heavy beats.

With Cadillactica, K.R.I.T. has accomplished what just about every rapper in the world has wanted to. That is, balancing out underground and commercial sounds without sacrificing his integrity to do so. With much of Cadillactica produced by K.R.I.T. himself, he has proven to be an independent force in hip-hop, never in need of “hot” guests or producers. King of the South? Seems likely, but that designation may only be remembered in time.

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10 Responses to "Big K.R.I.T. – “Cadillactica” – @@@@1/2 [Review]"
  • the man the myth says:

    Pretty solid LP. This dude is definitely one of the few dope rappers from the south (only a few good ones in the south anyway). I agree that this fades a bit towards the end but overall pretty solid. Probably 4@ in my book, but still good. Is it on par with Scarface’s, ball and MJG’s, UGK’s or Outkast’s classics?? Not a chance, but it is far better than a lot of the garbage from the south.

  • Pizzo says:

    Right you are, fixed!

  • Mitch 3K says:

    Better then Live From the Underground but honestly I feel like KRIT is doing himself A disservice by staying on Def Jam. The record industry is on it’s death bed as it is so no matter what they do he’s never going gold anyway, yet for some reason it seems that his best projects continue to be the ones he gives out for free. I’d easily take “King Remembered In Time” over this record.

    That said, it’s still a solid 3.5 star album to me. I feel like some of the guests and outside producers phoned it in on this tape but otherwise I like the majority.

  • battlehound says:

    I don’t see the appeal with this guy at all, i’ve always checked his albums after seeing such positives reviews on HHS but I don’t feel it at all.

  • yungplex says:

    This young man has all the right elements of southern mouthpieces of the past. The thing that makes stand out is the fact he knows to pay homage to the folk that came before him. A southern boi go stay spreadin love & $$$. His subject mater does not relate to the experiences your average cat but he’s clearly identifying w/someone. My only knock on Krit is we don’t to here him over the right kind of beat.

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