For his second Def Jam album, Cadillactica, Mississippi hip-hop auteur Big K.R.I.T. leaves behind the “dirty dirty third coast muddy water” and blasts right off into the stratosphere. The album, due November 11th, is a 15-song Afro-futurist concept suite taking place on the fictional planet named in the title. To take us there, K.R.I.T. has expanded his sonic palette to boldly go where his dependable country-rap mixtapes have never gone before – rubbery Zapp noises, choirs of Kate Bush-style moans, cinematic marching band drums, cicadas – in addition to his first time ever working with multiple outside producers (including Raphael Saddiq and Jim Jonsin).
On the LP, rhyming is set to stun, building off the energy of 2013’s manic “Mount Olympus,” a track written one day after Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse, which name-dropped K.R.I.T. among 10 other rising rappers. We caught up with the Mississippi rapper to try to explore his fantastic planet.
You said that you weren’t able to do what you wanted creatively on the last record. Why?
Because, with mixtapes, I was sampling a lot. With [2012's Def Jam debut] Live From the Underground, I went to sampling without any knowledge of or knowing how long it takes to clear a sample. So, a lot of these records I had created with samples embedded in them. Like, the record with B.B. King, “Praying Man,” had a sample embedded in it.
I’m not – nah. Nah. That had a sample. “If I Fall” had a sample. It was records that had samples, and I had to take them away. Live From the Underground theme song had a sample, and I had to take it away. So, you try to replay ‘em, but they never match up. So I dealt with that and then also wanted to… For me, it was like trying to prove myself. It went from just naturally trying to prove myself to being angry and proving myself. And I never want to write from that perspective ever again.
So you wrote that record angry?
I wrote that record in a frustration. Because it was a lot going on. I was paying too much attention to intricate things, business-wise. I wasn’t accustomed to how the rollout planned worked. Me, I [usually] made a mixtape and dropped it. But [Def Jam] had a rollout plan, I wasn’t accustomed to that, and so, it flooded over into my music – and you could tell that. That’s why this album is such a relief. I wasn’t mad making it. I wasn’t under the most pressure. I wasn’t concerned with samples because we didn’t use ‘em.
Are there any expectations from Def Jam for the new record?
No. Because I think we shocked a lot of people with Live From the Underground. It had no radio record. There was no official single. And we dropped it and people supported it because of the content. So I think we shocked a lot of people with that to the point where it’s like, they really understand it’s best to just kind of let me do me. And, with this album, I took it even further with working with other producers and not sampling so much, but creating songs that sound like samples.
Is that a sample of the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere” on “My Sub Pt. 3 (Big Bang)”?
I think I know what you’re talking about, but that’s not them though. But that was me reversing my own hi-hat. Which is not even the same hi-hat. Don’t worry.
It’s like a vintage Def Jam record. It sounds like Def Jam, 1986.
Where it all started. That kind of song, if you think about the Beastie Boys song, it was so gritty, and it was so stripped down from what most people would use – raw hi-hat, kick drum, 808. I want to do something that feels like that too. But it’s also inspired by a lot of other hard, bass-hitting records. You talking about “Freaky Tales” by Too $hort.
This whole idea of exploring space on the new record — this is such a left turn from “Country Shit.”
You think? I mentioned Pluto in “Country Shit.” All I’m doing is telling you where the Cadillac that that crash landed on Live From the Underground came from. It came from Planet Cadillactica, which is still my creative mind. All this music came from my creative mind – my conscious thoughts. I just decided to make it a planet.
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