- Def Jam
By Nick Boyd, Daily Arts Writer
Published November 9, 2014
Justin Scott shouldered a heavy burden when he chose his stage name, Big K.R.I.T. (King Remembered in Time), but three mixtapes and two albums later, it’s hard to argue with his rap credentials. K.R.I.T.’s new album, Cadillactica, lands amid high expectations, but the Mississippi native delivers the pungent Southern, bass-laden, subwoofer-tearing style his listeners have grown accustomed to while simultaneously pushing his artistic boundaries.
The album draws from genres ranging from gospel to blues, and features artists from Wiz Khalifa to A$AP Ferg, providing the ideal lyrical platform and supporting cast for the future King. In a rap climate increasingly dominated by the sounds of TDE and OVO, K.R.I.T. provides a unique third dimension and seems to be a man on a mission to keep Southern rap alive and well. On Cadillactica, he exceeds his mandate and solidifies his status as a contemporary rap titan and production mastermind.
“Let’s create” — The album opens with a woman’s voice imploring K.R.I.T. to start making some music (or sex, pending your interpretation). K.R.I.T. protests initially, but it doesn’t take much prodding for him to concede to the voice. The rapper then slides into the smooth intro track, aptly dubbed “Kreation,” and discusses the pursuit of perfection. “Kreation” transports the listener to K.R.I.T.’s retro Cadillac and signals the beginning of a strange auditory journey through the annals of Southern rap. It’s clear from the beginning that K.R.I.T. won’t conform to any mainstream standards. Throughout the album, he stays true to himself and produces an artistically honest narrative.
Whereas “Kreation” puts you in K.R.I.T.’s Cadillac, the album’s third track, “My Sub Pt. 3,” threatens to blow a hole in the trunk. You can’t listen to this song without a fat-ass subwoofer because other speakers won’t register any sounds aside from the lyrics. This track feels good in your ear holes, but may shatter your rib cage. And yes — this really is the third song he has titled “My Sub.” Big K.R.I.T. has been paying homage to the subwoofer since his second mix tape, Return of 4eva, which featured the track “My Sub.” “My Sub Pt. 2” can be located on his previous album, Live From the Underground. At this rate, we will probably end up with “My Sub Pt. 15.”
Many tracks off Cadillactica were released prior to the album, including “Soul Food,” “Pay Attention” and “Lac Lac.” Although listeners have already had the opportunity to enjoy these songs, they remain standouts on the album. “Soul Food,” featuring Raphael Saadiq, employs a bluesy gospel hook and a soulful guitar loop that exemplifies K.R.I.T.’s individuality within the rap world and willingness to bridge gaps across genres. “Pay Attention,” featuring Rico Love, begins slowly and introspectively but builds to an intense chorus that sets this song apart. “Lac Lac,” featuring A$AP Ferg, closes out the album and is one of K.R.I.T.’s all-time smoothest tracks.
“Mind Control,” the eighth track off the album, features Wiz Khalifa and E-40. A slap bass line fit for Outkast establishes the tone of the song and creates a retro vibe that epitomizes the album. Don’t worry, Wiz doesn’t miss his chance to drop a signature verse, covering subject matter from “Lobster bisque” to “Money, clothes, hoes, weed smoke.” I guess it’s the simple things in life. Other prominent features include Lupe Fiasco on “Lost Generation.” K.R.I.T. and Lupe seem an unlikely pairing, but they combine to make this the second best track from the album. Lupe and K.R.I.T. seamlessly exchange verses and both rappers are at their respective bests on the track.
The standout track from Cadillactica is undoubtedly “Do You Love Me for Real.” The track features relatively unknown singer Mara Hruby, from Oakland, California, but she nearly steals the show in her role singing the hook. However, K.R.I.T. deserves credit for a compositional masterpiece. The production of this track synthesizes a downtempo beat and Hruby’s soulful vocals, providing Big K.R.I.T. the most transcendent platform on the entire album. The song combines R&B and hip hop in the perfect ratio, making it one of the best rap songs of the past year. Remember the name Mara Hruby — she may be a queen remembered in time.
Two summers ago, Kendrick Lamar called out Big K.R.I.T. on his verse in Big Sean’s “Control.” On Cadillactica, K.R.I.T. shows the world why Lamar had his eyes on the Southern rapper and proves he deserves to be numbered among today’s rap elite. Beyond that, K.R.I.T. shows that even among such esteemed company, he is unique — his ability to produce visionary beats and pay tribute to multiple genres while maintaining a cohesive sound transports him close to the pinnacle of today’s rap landscape. He may not have the same name recognition or pop sound of some of his peers, but he has exceptional talent and may prove to truly be a King Remembered in Time.