Big K.R.I.T., ‘Cadillactica’ [ALBUM REVIEW]
Space is the place. On his highly-anticipated sophomore effort, ‘Cadillactica,’ Big K.R.I.T. invites listeners to take an interstellar trip through the South (and his subconscious) aboard his Cadillac spaceship.
K.R.I.T., a 2011 XXL Freshman, proves he is just as lyrical and musically progressive as his more famous classmates (think YG, Kendrick Lamar and Meek Mill). On the album, the Meridian, Miss., MC recounts his own coming of age story -- with a futuristic twist. The result is a record replete with honesty, lyrical prowess and classic southern soul.
It is clear that K.R.I.T. is in a pivotal place in his career, taking a leap of faith with 'Cadillactica' by breaking away from the mold of the conventional "rapper rises to fame" story. It’s almost as if he didn’t get the memo -- first you're supposed to score a hit record, then follow it up with a groundbreaking album. But Krizzle has chosen to zig while his contemporaries zag. He's been building his own foundation one mixtape at a time, waiting patiently for his turn to strike, from the dark corner of a studio set deep in the backwaters of Mississippi. While he remains true to the eclectic blueprint provided by his predecessors such as OutKast and UGK, K.R.I.T. reinvents the classic southern hip-hop recipe, allowing his flow to speak louder than the bass blaring out of the system in his 'Lac.
The album's sound is a logical evolution for K.R.I.T. but it is also distinctly different from his past projects -- mainly because the production isn't nearly as sample-heavy. This time around, K.R.I.T. takes off his producer hat and allows his tracks to be laced with original music from Raphael Saadiq, Jim Jonsin and DJ Dahi, among others. While it’s clear that lyrically he is still ‘Live From the Underground,’ it’s also apparent that the sound of ‘Return of 4Eva’ is long gone.
Starting the engine, K.R.I.T. begins with ‘Kreation.’ What starts off as a conversation about sex between K.R.I.T. and a woman becomes the story of the genesis of his world. Led by an electric guitar-infused with a soothing snare riff, K.R.I.T. is poetic, painting the metaphorical picture of the birth of ‘Cadillactica’ -- one relaxed bar at a time. The opener sets the tone, and it becomes evident that K.R.I.T. is taking the scenic route on this tour of his universe. Instead of hopping on the expressway, he cruises on the back roads and takes his first breath on ‘Life.’ “I found life, on this planet / Dammit / I been damaged, but I won’t take this for granted,” he raps with vigor. But just when you thought he was far removed from classic K.R.I.T, he gets nostalgic, taking it back to where it all started with his sub, on the multi-dimensional, 808-riddled ‘My Sub Pt. 3 (Bang Bang).’
With the momentum going, there is no stopping for snacks or bathroom breaks. The road is clear and the album's title song signals that it's time to sit back and enjoy the comfort of the Cadillac. Supported by a trippy, yet mesmerizing loop of “ahhhs,” Krizzle picks up the pace of his flow, channeling Big Boi, but doesn't let you forget it’s “K-R-I-T forever.”
Hungry yet? Raphael Saadiq joins K.R.I.T. to cook up some 'Soul Food.' Saadiq’s sweet guitar strumming and the sounds of piano keys over a boom bap drum loop are the sonic equivalent to a traditional smothered, smoked and succulent Mississippi Sunday dinner.
Now that we're full and satisfied, it’s time to ‘Pay Attention.’ The lead single off the album, featuring Rico Love, showcases K.R.I.T.’s softer side. He and Rico admit to being blinded by money and fame and as a result, neglect their leading ladies. Although he is apologetic, the R&B note is gone just as quickly as it emerged and Krizzle gets back on his throne.
The ‘King of the South’ reigns supreme, with a boastful ode to his evolution from the “country side of town, to ballin' in the city lights.” K.R.I.T. ups the ante, bouncing his Seville with aggression and determination to the beat. OutKast's influence on the rapper resurfaces again as Krizzle flexes his vocal chops on ‘Mind Control.’ However, verses from Wiz Khalifa and E-40 remind you that you aren’t in the '90s but 2014, and possibly peering into the future.
Halfway to his destination, K.R.I.T. pulls over on the dark side of the moon to offer a moment of prose with ‘Standby (Interlude),’ led by the saxophone serenade of Kenneth Whalum III. The transition couldn’t be better into 'Do You Love Me for Real,' the sing-songy love story featuring Mara Hruby (his rumored girlfriend), which outlines most rappers' delights: women and cars. K.R.I.T. keeps the mood on the laid-back and slow tip, getting back to the ladies with ‘Third Eye.’ He finds his soulmate and immediately falls in love too soon, using candid lyricism and an uncanny use of imagery.
The cool is on with ‘Mo Better Cool’ with Bun B., Devin The Dude and Big Sant. But it’s time to put the navigation on for ‘Angels,’ as Krizzle tries to find his way through the clouds, deciphering the real from the fake and pondering life’s obstacles over the throwback beat.
It’s getting close to the final lap but by no means is the music dwindling. ‘Saturdays = Celebration’ featuring Jamie N Commons opens with a ballad-like feel, directed by the keys. But K.R.I.T. pays homage to the Sabbath when the drums kick in. High on energy and packed full of messages, the Lupe Fiasco-assisted ‘Lost Generation’ is the perfect grounds for a mash-up between the conscious Chi-Town MC and the introspective Krizzle.
Spitting at orbital speed, the MC drives his message home on the DJ Dahi-produced ‘Mt. Olympus (Reprise),’ the one track that could arguably be considered K.R.I.T.’s “breakout song.” On it, he proclaims himself to be the sole crown-bearer, reigning over the kingdom of hip-hop, attacking the beat as if it’s his last chance to rule.
Seventeen tracks later, K.R.I.T.’s tour through outer space comes to a close with ‘Lac Lac’ featuring A$AP Ferg. It’s the perfect going home song, mellow while invoking a little more than a head nod, but not offering a full on twerk session. Ferg channels Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, while K.R.I.T. highlights his biggest musical influences.
Overall, the album has a well-crafted storyline and finds him in a triumphant place following his 2012 debut. He avoids the sophomore curse with a well-composed body of work reflective of his original sound, which gained him recognition in 2011.The production, although light on the samples, has been carefully selected and approved by K.R.I.T., showcasing his maturity as an artist. His desire to emerge from the underground as a true King Remembered in Time is evident.