Last week we published our hotly debated list of the 25 Best Rapper Producers of All Time. It was great to get the feedback, from the positive—“The write up on Quik was spot on. The most underrated. So muthafukkin hated. Anything he did in music was never celebrated”—to the negative—“Where the fuck was Shock G?” (Shout out to the whole Digital Underground!) We appreciate the passion. Remember we do this for the culture. While we were in the final stages of putting this list together, we had a visit from one of the greatest double threats in hip hop: the Free Agent himself, Mississippi’s own Big K.R.I.T. You may have heard about his forthcoming double album, or peeped his new video, “Keep the Devil Off” (below). After hearing a few amazing cuts from the project, we took some time to get his perspective about his own evolution on the mic and behind the boards, and which rapper/producers inspired him on his journey from the deep South to “Mount Olympus.” Here comes the knowledge.
Do you prefer producing yourself to getting a beat from somebody else?
Definitely. It’s a different kind of challenge, ’cause not only do you wanna write something jammin’ when you get a beat from someone else, but you also wanna make sure that they actually think it’s jammin’ too. And that’s the difference. You could totally feel like you spot-on with the content, but if somebody else produce it, they might have a totally different idea for it. And they be like, “Yeah but you shoulda went this way.” When I produce it, I know off the bat what I want it to sound like, how I want the feel, the aggression. And normally it’s spot on from that point. So yeah, I’d rather rap on my own beats sometime, yo.
When you were just getting started, who were some of the other cats that you think are really good at both?
Man, David Banner. David Banner was one of the first people that I could point at—obviously being from Mississippi as well—that produced and rapped. And all of his beats—you know, it wasn’t like they all sounded the same. They had different vibes and different feels. And it looked like gave his the opportunity to sound different on records. “Like A Pimp” sounds nothing like “Cadillac on 22s.” Right?
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