Caleborate recruits Big K.R.I.T. to lace the remix with some innovative rhymes, dedicating his verse to the single parents who are scraping the bottom of the barrel to get by. “This for all the single mothers, single fathers outchea tryna make it,” K.R.I.T. raps on the Lege Kale-produced track. “Taking pay cuts, never late putting food up on the table.” Check the remix out below!
Big K.R.I.T. has always had the air of a DIY artist. However, in 2017 he took his independence to a new level. Going out on his own, K.R.I.T. launched the Multi Alumni imprint. He put his savings on the line to make 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time over the course of the last two years. While going for broke, Krizzle did as influences including UGK and 8Ball had done in the past. He released a conceptual double album. With self-confidence in the driver’s seat, Big K.R.I.T. buckled up, bringing new meaning to “glass house” in commandeering his most vulnerable and courageous album to date. Listeners responded, especially readers of Ambrosia For Heads, who voted it the Best Rap Album of 2017, in a Sweet 16 tournament. In the championship round, Big K.R.I.T.’s third album proved its might. In response, yesterday (January 3), AFH spoke to Big K.R.I.T. about this album, its creation, and why this effort marks a new peak in elevation for an artist that has already accomplished so much.
Ambrosia For Heads: You literally put your all into this album-emotionally, financially and spiritually—for more than two years. How does it feel to have 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time recognized by the listeners as the Best Rap Album of 2017?
Big K.R.I.T.: Brother, it’s amazing. It’s a blessing. It’s one of those things where spending so much time making music once again, I just went back to that [mind-state] of just wanting people to hear it. I really shed a lot of the competitiveness, and a lot the frustration and bitterness that I had on previous albums. This one was just all about doing exactly what I wanted to do. Either you love it or hate it. [I was] not trying to be neutral, and not really focusing on the sound of the music at the time. I was just doing what I felt, and I’m glad it paid off. It took two years to create the project. But that time was so necessary, ‘cause I was living life. I think it shows in the music. People can hear that hunger that I used to have, back on my previous works. It just shows through. I had a certain kind of freedom that I’ve never had before. It’s just a blessing to see the way that people respond to the music. It exceeded all my expectations, brother, trust me. All of them.
In regards to reputation in Hip-Hop, the South has certainly come a long way. In terms of talent, artists below the Mason-Dixon line certainly had it and more; regardless, it seems as if the Southern Rap gods had to fight tooth and nail for genuine respect in ‘the game’ that New York City birthed. Now, those very legends have helped not only to put a permanent spotlight on the South, but also to affix themselves as Rap’s current crown bearers.
One artist that deserves to be included in this conversation: Mississippi mastermind Big K.R.I.T.The self-proclaimed ‘King Remembered In Time’ has been producing some of the best — no, the best country Rap tunes this side of Pimp C and André 3000. The many mixtapes and albums that propelled K.R.I.T. to icon status — from the classic K.R.I.T. Wuz Here to the how-the-f***-is-this-so-slept-on Cadillactica — are just as solid if not better than chart-topping projects from the peers who are compelled to salute him as the genius that he is. The truth is, out of the many styles that K.R.I.T. possesses, there are two that he’s probably most known for: the hard-hitting, pimp-esque blend that oozes swagger from the crevices of a Roland TR-808, and Justin Scott, the man bringing the introspective, the vulnerable and — for all intents and purposes — the higher-conscious. Either way, both deliver words best described as time-stopping and life-changing, further stamping his near-flawless legacy in music.
Given all this, RESPECT. was more than honored to chop it up with the Meridian emcee-producer during the promotional run for his latest offering, 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, a sonically-breathtaking look into the aforementioned two sides of K.R.I.T. In addition to breaking down the album, writer Landon Buford got a chance to take things back to the essence of the virtuoso’s artistic genesis: you can consider this our true re-introduction to Big K.R.I.T.
The release of 4Eva is a Mighty Long Time has been a thrilling time to follow Big K.R.I.T’s career. The title of the double album oddly can be associated with the time we have formally heard from the Mississippi emcee, but with great reason. Departing Def Jam, K.R.I.T. took the independent route, placing himself at the helm of every piece of what will be coming from his person.
Reemerging with a double album, Big K.R.I.T. took on a tall task. Few artists in hip-hop’s history have taken on the daunting task and released a body of work that would not only hold ears for the duration but receive critical acclaim. Call K.R.I.T. the genres latest unicorn. Not only did he successfully sidestep the perceptions attributed to double albums, he created what many believe to be the work that he always strived for while under the constraints of a label and even stripped himself down to bring Justin Scott, an examination of himself tagged with his government name.
The successful 2017 for K.R.I.T. will stretch into next year with a headlining tour bringing in CyHi the Prynce and Ty Dolla $ign, the latter for select dates. With 2017 coming to a close and a bright future on the immediate horizon, K.R.I.T. hopped on the phone to talk his new album, his new freedom as an artist, his upcoming tour and more.
How has the response been from fans, what are the consensus favorites that come back on the album?
Big K.R.I.T.: Man, definitely “1999,” which was produced by Mannie Fresh, featuring Lloyd definitely shined. “Subenstein,” which is a part of the “My Sub” series, we on the fourth one is tearing speakers up in buildings. The “Intro”, the record with UGK, all of them has healthy responses but those are the ones that stand out a lot.
You came into this one two years removed from Cadillactica, how was your approach as an artist different?
Big K.R.I.T.: The freedom, I felt like I had the same freedom from the mixtapes with this album. I was able to creatively do what I wanted to do or felt like, even with it being a double album. I always had an issue with sequencing a lot of the songs with having really hard, knocking, player type anthems and then having something like “The Vent” or “Angels” and with this album I was able to do two different albums. They sound different, feel different on the instrumentation and the concepts. It worked and it wasn’t like I had to go sit in a boardroom or anything like that to play the records. This is what I wanted to put out and it was a go.
Like it or not, your favourite rapper is a major brand. With hip-hop’s ever expanding popularity, and the introduction of social media, the entrepreneurial hustler’s spirit that we’ve celebrated for years has morphed into full blown capitalism: artists that can best articulate their USP in a snappy elevator pitch are the ones destined for greatness. While this may be a blessing for record label marketing departments everywhere, for consumers it’s watering down the product, making rap stars less real, more two dimensional and unable to truly articulate the complexities of the human condition, for fear of being off-brand. As a Def Jam signee, Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. refused to fit his conflicted realities into a neat, marketable box. A three dimensional talent, Justin Scott was signed to Def Jam by then senior president of A&R Sha Money XL in 2010 after the release of his acclaimed mixtape ‘K.R.I.T. Wuz Here’. Despite inking a deal as a high priority act, he soon found himself surrounded by an unrecognisable team of staff following label restructuring, and felt that those left weren’t sure what to do with him. While he was by no means a flop – his first two albums charted in the top ten on US Billboard 200, and his 2012 single ‘I Got This’ was declared the Miami Heat’s theme song by LeBron James as they won the NBA championship – K.R.I.T. wasn’t the star he should have been under Def Jam’s regime. It seems that this was due to a misunderstanding of K.R.I.T.’s fan base rather than anything on the creative front. For example, while the label chased the digital world, they failed to realise how important physical product remained for K.R.I.T.’s fans. “Physical copies were so important to me in these small cities, in the Best Buys and shit,” he explained on an episode of YouTube talk show ‘Everyday Struggle’, “because that shit still means something, especially in the South. Streaming hit and it was like ‘Oh, there’s really no space for you.’”
n 2016 K.R.I.T. announced via Twitter that he was parting ways with Def Jam. He’d tell Billboard that this was because of changes in the business, but refused to be too specific. “It’s definitely a longer story,” he said, “but for the most part, it’s no love lost.” Now, with the benefit of hindsight, he sees the split as a blessing. “I don’t regret what I’ve had to go through,” he assures us, kicking back at home one Friday morning, “because it got me to this point. You can always say ‘I wish I could have…’ but I’m here now. I’ve got to deal with it as it’s been.” Now afforded the freedom to take his career entirely into his own hands, K.R.I.T. has released one of 2017’s best rap albums, ‘4eva Is A Mighty Long Time’, an expansive double LP exploring two sides to his life as an artist; one disc comprises trunk rattling bass primed for the subwoofers, while the other is a jazzy revelation of the Clark Kent behind his Superman. “I’m human,” he states, simply, of the LP’s intent. “To me it’s always been about trying to show the duality of myself. I think we all go out into the world sometimes with a confidence, we put that face on and turn into superheroes. I think it’s important for me to talk about that, [as well as] what you go through when you’re not feeling the world, you don’t feel up for talking.” On album track ‘Mixed Messages’ he’s open about the double standards “I got a whole lot of mixed messages in my songs, am I wrong to feel this way?” he asks in the hook, before reaping off a list of admissions such as: “I never really liked all the fake shit, but I’m attracted to the fake ass and fake tits.” K.R.I.T. hopes that the transparency will allow him to connect with other human beings – particularly his cult fanbase – in a deeper way, and that may lead them to be more understanding when he isn’t able to oblige every request for a photo, or answer every message he receives on social media. “I never like letting people down,” he admits. “I think we all want to be liked and loved right?”
Gary Vee released the full interview with Big K.R.I.T. about the hustle and entreprenueral motivation!
This is easily one of the more interesting meetings that I’ve had in a while and it was with the amazing Big K.R.I.T. I think there are some really interesting pointers in here if you pay close attention.
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.
The King Remembered In Time stopped by Sway In The Morning to talk about his growth, his struggles and everything in between. He also spit a top five freestyle that should make all wack rappers go into hibernation. Watch the full interview above and go get that 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time.
It’s safe to assume that Big K.R.I.T.’s southern hospitality is the signature ingredient that makes conversation with him, even over the phone, enjoyable.
“I’m one of those people who, when I walk down the street, even if I don’t know you and we somehow make eye-contact, I may greet you with a tip of the hat. I can’t help it,” he explains.
Not only is the Mississippi native navigating the ever changing path of independence, he is also the head of his newfound label, Multi Alumni.
As executive, the rapper oversaw the creative direction, production, and the budget for his third studio album, 4Eva Is a Mighty Long Time. Though the exact amount spent wasn’t disclosed, K.R.I.T. explained how easily a $1 million budget can disappear as quickly as it was allotted: cavalier spending on luxuries such as jewelry or release parties, in addition to the money needed for colorless necessities such as taxes, attorneys fees, marketing and radio promotion.