Big K.R.I.T. is an astounding musician. His mixtape Return of 4-eva is emblematic of new melodic southern hip hop and the political economy of a rapper on the come up. Return of 4-eva is an album, with musical cohesion, quick skits, and a distinct tape-long flow. It is also given away free.
K.R.I.T. is one of several artists who develop fans by giving away exceptional musical product. It seems like he just wants to make fans. Well in my case it worked. Whatever you put out, I’m buying.
Return of 4-eva is an engaging listen all the way through. The intro track hints at the Charlie Daniels Band as the fantasy of an emcee taking the stage to a roaring crowd is positively cathartic; engineered through clever audio layering into a horn-heavy crescendo. Fade into an alarm clock to the track “Rise and Shine,” boom-bap and an invitation into the worldview of a sincere young emcee hustling to make something happen.
Big K.R.I.T. can make a name for himself with his poetic articulation of consciousness and struggle. “The vent” and in particular “Free my soul” offer a lens on ethics of consumerism.
“I think it was the shine that got us blinded not sure of what we reading when we signing our life away/they say ignorance is bliss well I’d like to stay in the game and test out records and real shit they don’t like to play/you ghetto famous to us, you just Bojangles to them/ tap your feet, tip your brim and sell it back to your kin/ I don’t rap I spit hymns my god’s bigger than them trying to blacken your heart and say we’re children of men/ I sin ‘cuz I’m ain’t perfect but I’d rather save your life than hurt it.”
And of course, the tune “Dreamin'” for which there is a fairly earnest K.R.I.T. narrating while engaging in some custodial work.
Better than the heart-felt K.R.I.T. is the wood-wheel steering old school driving emcee out for a ride in “Rotation,” “Highs and Lows,” and “My sub.” “My sub” in particular is a thumping tune about the value of bass and it might be the best track on the album. It is a good point to note that most of these beats were made by K.R.I.T. himself. The sound is mature hip hop with Southern flavor and a refreshing absence of the pop loops that saturate most hip hop projects. Each track was obviously lovingly crafted to articulate the distinct sound of the emcees or the tune itself.
“Sookie now” positions the Mississippi up-and-comer with the Mississippi veteran David Banner. I guess sookie now is parlance for ‘we don’t believe you.’ Big K.R.I.T. enjoys the chance to drawl out while Banner gets righteously political. “From the land of the Ku Klux/with no masks/and my folks they ain’t never had/ the rebel flag still flying/ bitch you lying if you say we ain’t hanging/from a tree Fredrick Carter Greenwood Mississipi.”
His flow is nice over slow thumping beats. “American Rap Star” and “King’s Blues” are good examples where he can get expressive about his struggles in smooth cadence. There is some casual sexism in K.R.I.T.’s lyrics especially associated with sexual behavior and pimping. Fortunately his rhymes portray diverse perspectives of women and he isn’t a one-note misogynist. There was more of this pimping paradigm represented in his previous mixtape Big K.R.I.T. wuz here.
The “Country Shit (remix)” offers a latent pack of trouble. The beat is rugged (and a holdover from Big K.R.I.T. wuz here) sharp snaps and a bumping bass hit that moves the listeners through verses by Ludacris, K.R.I.T. and Bun B.
Return of 4-eva is an awesome undertaking, a true creation of great musician. Thank you Big K.R.I.T.
Now make a video for “My sub!”