Money phones and iced-out chains may seem like a hip-hop prerequisite these days but there are certain rappers who have built a career off taking the understated route, namely Big K.R.I.T. While there’s a glint of gold grills here and some gold rings there as he sits inside XXL’s New York City office, K.R.I.T.’s artistic merit shines brighter than the few pieces of jewelry he does wear. The Mississippi native doesn’t need to flash a bust down or cash to prove his worth. In fact, K.R.I.T. admits he went broke making his third album, 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time.
Coming clean about his personal finances is part of K.R.I.T.’s journey as an independent artist. Last year, the 31-year-old MC revealed he parted ways with Def Jam, the label on which he released his last two albums—Live From the Underground (2012) and Cadillactica (2014). Without a major label machine behind him now, the rapper is more hands on than ever when it comes to his career, putting all his efforts—and own money—into his music.
4eva Is a Mighty Long Time is the first album to come to fruition under the 2011 XXL Freshman’s Multi Alumni imprint. With 13 mixtapes and two LPs already under his belt, he’s been down this road before, but this time, Krizzle is riding solo, traveling on two distinctly different paths. He presents a double album representing duality: one side showcases the artist Big K.R.I.T. while the other highlights the man Justin Scott.
On the K.R.I.T. side of the album, trunk-rattling bangers like the Mannie Fresh-produced “Subenstein” and the lyrical fire power of “Confetti,” produced by Hey DJ, prove the rhymer hasn’t stepped far from his roots, whereas the project’s Justin Scott section finds him taking an introspective approach on frustrations in his personal and professional life with the self-produced “Drinking Sessions” and dealing with depression on the WLPWR-crafted “Price of Fame.”
Armed with one of 2017’s best albums, Big K.R.I.T. is heading into 2018 with a sense of accomplishment. XXL sat down with the rapper to discuss 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time, the groundbreaking moment he experienced going into the album, working with Mannie Fresh, overcoming depression, fighting against racism and his secret chalk drawings. Get involved in the conversation below.
XXL: In September, one of the first visuals we saw as a teaser for this project was you basically burying yourself, which is a pretty deep message. Why did you want to showcase that?
Big K.R.I.T.: The burying myself in the trailer that we put on for the album was basically to show the rebirth, right? The getting rid of the old, and showing a new side of myself, and all that I dealt with not only the label but just creatively and mentally. The depression and the frustration and the bitterness, and putting that aside and burying it, and now moving forward in life. I think we all do that.
You know, as we start to change and evolve in life and I just wanted to show that. It obviously was a dark format, you know what I’m saying, but sometimes we come out of the darkness into the light, and that’s how it is, and I think it needed to be portrayed in that way. It was very gritty, beautiful shot. Motion Family [shot that]. I definitely think it got the point across.
Your album is 22 songs, showcasing the two sides of you as an artist and as a man. Why is this the right time in your career to showcase this duality?
It was important to do a double album for me ’cause I think I really needed to show the duality that I’m dealing with, right. I’ve been trying to tell people from the 4EvaNaDay, you know, and even the songs, it was always difficult figuring out a way to sequence the trunk-rattling records with the introspective records. I’ve always had a hard time. This was the opportunity where I can do all the trunk-rattling and go confident, lyrical prowess, go hard on one album.
Then I can tell you how it is when at home sometimes, when I’m insecure, when I’m depressed, when I deal with society, how I medicate. The things that go on in my life, but I’m still trying to stay positive and have faith and life up to a perfect thing that I had in my mind. And I feel like I needed to do that now, and I had spent so much time away that technically, to me, 22 tracks wasn’t a lot of music when I used to drop mixtapes that were 22 songs and people were cool with it.
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