Cinematic Music/Def Jam
I’ll never forget the night in 1995, when I thought I was staying up to watch “Showtime at the Apollo,” and got the surprise of my young life. For the first time ever, “The Source Awards” was being televised, and ALL of my favorite hip-hop stars were there. It was that night that The East-West Coast war started brewing, sparked by Snoop’s outrage over Dr. Dre being booed, and intensified by Suge Knight’s infamous “Come to Death Row” speech, but it was that night where the most overlooked hip-hop group grabbed the entire culture by the balls and made them listen. A clearly agitated Andre Benjamin, one half of the group Outkast, proclaimed that the “South got something to say.” As of late, the South hasn’t had much to say at all. With the exception of David Banner, there hasn’t been many artists to emerge that preserves the true essence of the dirty south. Big K.R.I.T emerged in 2010 and immediately set out to change that. Since “K.R.I.T wuz here,” dropped, he’s continued to impact the game with every mixtape release. His Def Jam debut, “Live From The Underground” is here, and unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that this is worth checking out.
After a syrupy spoken word intro, K.R.I.T glides into the LP via the title track, as he “grabs a paper, sits on the track, and gets his shit on.” “Cool to Be Southern” is full of the southern dripped funk you’d expect. The first single, “I Got This” keeps the frantic bounce going on the first third of the album. “Money on the Floor” features legends 8Ball & MJG and 2 Chainz, and everyone holds their own, as expected. Ludacris checks in and does his job on “What U Mean,” but does not upstage the star of the show.
The second half of the album slows the pace and allows K.R.I.T. to tell a little bit more of his story. “Hydroplaning” features Devin the Dude and the slow cooking beat, K.R.I.T. gets high and zones out, as he reminisces on, well, getting high. Devin falls in line and does the same, and will immediately make you go back and listen to some of his work. The biggest surprise and one of the best tracks comes when K.R.I.T. invites Blues icon B.B. King on board for “Praying Man.”
K.R.I.T. who’s produced his own work his entire career, evokes the true sound of the south, employing live instrumentation, coupled with 808s and spirited background vocals. The only drawback on the LP is the lack of an effective hook on some of the songs, but every song is strong in its own right, with or without one. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that not only is this going to be one of the best albums this year, but this is one of the most important albums to come out of the South in a very long time.