Southern Twang… What does that really mean? Does Hip-Hop even need the South? For awhile it seem like it didn’t, with the East and West coast putting the game in a choke hold, it seemed there was no real room for the South to make a name for itself. However, do to the likes of UGK, The Geto Boyz, Outkast and T.I. just to name a few, the South is just as prevalent when talking about Hip-Hop. Sadly though, in the past few years, Southern Hip-Hop has been seen as more of a dance crazed bubble gum rap machine, than anything else. Although recently, new artist have been doing their part in changing all that and restoring credibility to the Dirty. Big K.R.I.T. is one of those newcomers; this Mississippi native, born Justin Scott, grew up on the classics and it is very evident in his music. A producer and rapper, Krizzle has made quite a name for himself through the mixtape circuit. After 3 arguably masterful tapes, it is time we get the official major label debut by Big K.R.I.T. entitled Live from the Underground. His name stands for King Remembered in Time; the question is, will his music be remembered?
Production – 7.5
As I always like to do, let’s start with the sounds of the album. K.R.I.T. is well known for his beat making; he has produced tracks for the likes of T.I., Chris Brown and many others. It is easy for me to say, that one of his major strengths comes on the boards as a beat maker. I enjoy K.R.I.T.’s traditional southern sounding roots and cords that seem to overtake the project. His sound on the project is a bit more upbeat than his previous tapes and it is both a positive and negative for me. I love when Krizzle slows it down and sets the mood emotionally with piano keys and guitar strings; however those sounds are not as common this time around. Instead, listeners get hard hitting drums and horns that hit heavy in the whip. Whenever I think of Southern music and sounds, I think about trumpets, saxophones and tubas hitting high notes with booming drums all throughout the tracks, and I get just that from this project. As previously stated, the sounds are all typical and very Southern because of Big K.R.I.T.’s background and influence; I don’t really have a problem with it, but it just doesn’t blow me away. I have been listening to K.R.I.T. for some time now, and I was just hoping that he would bring something new and refreshing to the table since this is his debut LP. I will continue to bump this, because it does just that, bump all the way through.
Lyrics – 8
Lyricism isn’t always something that is associated with Southern rappers, and not to say that K.R.I.T. is the second coming of anyone, but he does have amazing word play. He touches on real life experiences, dreams, expectations, doubts, fears and salvation; all of which are delivered uniquely with K.R.I.T.’s style and flow. I especially love his nod to family influences and his desires to succeed. However, for this project the subject matter is all over the place; which for some is great but for others it might not work for you. One of the more emotional verses on the project have Krizzle spitting bars like “A country boy trying to make these petty ends meet/I learned my lesson, can’t trust these niggas ‘cuz they envy/Can’t stop no show, I’m about this dough, and that’s all I can say/Thank god for everything, I coulda died like yesterday/Make room for me in case my plane just ain’t meant to fly/I hope you feel if I fall from the sky, hollering out don’t let me die” He speaks of real feelings and emotions about his blessings and tabulations. K.R.I.T. is a great rapper and is obviously still growing but he needs to find his comfort zone. His slow flow to me is the best; I want to list all three verses to Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but this will do for now, “Be a better man in a world of negligence/Pedophilic malvolence, don’t trust your reverend/When they settling for settlements/Lock your doors, shut your windows, don’t let the devil in/The media graffiti us with ravishments Money, cars, and clothes I suppose what successful is/They say sow you’re oats, it’s natural to experiment/But don’t get sucked and fuck and run amok – be celibate.” I started out just focusing on the sounds and beats off the album, but once I hit the latter part of the project I once again was moved by the words of Justin Scott.
Songs – 8
There are a total of 16 songs on the album; three have been released as singles the first being “I Got This.” It’s hard for me to say this, but If K.R.I.T. would have cut or two or three songs and had a 13-14 track LP it would have made this a much more solidified album. The self-titled track “Live from the Underground” starts off the album in a great way, there are bright spots with guest verse by 8ball & MJG on “Money on the Floor;” let’s just forget that 2 Chainz is even on the end of that. Ludacris Then comes in on “What U Mean” and gives a shout to all the freaks. The middle of the project gets a little sloppy, with “My Sub (part 2)” and “Don’t Let me Down” are not my favorites and neither is “Yeah Dats Me”. However, “Porchlight,” which features Anthony Hamilton and “Hydroplaning” which gets a verse from Devin the Dude pick up the album again after a small stumble. The album winds down amazingly with the Melanie Fiona featured “If I fall” and which has to be my favorite track on the album “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” follows that up perfectly. The most surprising musical feature is the incredible guitar help that B.B. King gives K.R.I.T. on “Praying Man.” All in all there about 11-12 solid tracks on the project that I will definitely have in rotation, a few that I will forget and a few that I many play once in a while but may skip from time to time.
Conclusion – 7.8
Now, I want to give this a solid 8 because of the heartfelt lyrics soulful sounds and just that overall Southern charisma, but I just can’t. Here is why, I instantly fell in love with Return of 4eva and even highly enjoyed 4eva and A Day, his previous two mixtapes; that is why I can’t rate this any higher. I feel like a debut album should be light years above a mixtape, and I’m not quite sure that is the case with Big K.R.I.T. I hate when people compare things, but when it is the same artist and you have already given me a great body of work, I expect nothing less from you every time. It is however a great project that flows well together other than a few speed bumps in the middle. I liked the majority of the features and I am glad it was not over saturated with big names. There is no real radio smash hit single and it was not very well promoted, nevertheless, it is Live and it does give off that Southern Underground sound that most listeners are used to. I want to see Big K.R.I.T. continue to grow as an artist and to stay true to himself and his roots. If he can continue to do that he music will certainly be remembered in time.
Review by Edgar Gomez for Defsounds.com