Before you pop in Big K.R.I.T.’s new album, Live From The Underground, ask yourself something. Have you listened to any of his past mixtapes? If you answered no, then stop whatever you’re doing and go download them. The two most prolific tapes the southern rapper put out, 4eva N A Day and Return Of 4eva, have garnered him many of fans in a rather short span of time. Especially for someone who hasn’t released a traditional full length on a label yet. Instead, he has just put out his music for free, allowing anyone who wants to get it to get it.
But now, he is signed to Def Jam, and primed to release his first studio album in the form of the aforementioned Live From The Underground. This might be his major label “debut,” but K.R.I.T. sounds like a southern vet. Think if you combined the lyrical ability of Big Boi from Outkast and the best beats that have accompanied UGK – then you’d have K.R.I.T., as well as this album, in a nutshell.
The title track is a smooth introductory track that references multiple excesses that he is now indulging in because of his success. “Cool 2 Be Southern” features some nice verses and some great production. “Don’t Let Me Down” takes a Beatles song and makes an excruciatingly short track that features some of his best lines on the album.
The features on Underground are hit and miss. Veterans like Ludacris and Bun B do their thing on the tracks “What U Mean” and “Pull Up,” but that was really it. Even the triple feature on “Money On The Floor” with 8Ball, MJG, and 2 Chainz doesn’t even touch K.R.I.T.’s own verse. As a matter of fact, no one on the album touches K.R.I.T.. On a personal note, I would’ve loved to see either Andre 3000 or Big Boi come on the album and spit some fire, but alas, it is not here.
A big turn off is possibly the beats of the album. He southern flow and tendencies can make for some rather stereotypical rap listenings. There are plenty of songs that talk about money, women, and drugs. There are plenty of southern fried beats that you could find on a David Banner album, or something Bun B would ride to. But if you go past that, if you dig deeper into the 16 tracks that are on this album, you’ll find some great songs that break every stereotype. One of the final tracks “Praying Man (feat. B.B. King) is a down tempo downer about being lost, featuring the gorgeous guitars of the King himself. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is a lyrical ode to K.R.I.T’s father, and the guidance that he instilled in him when he was younger.
Live From The Underground is another solid outing from K.R.I.T.. However, I don’t feel like it’s better than his previous mixtapes. There are a lot more club ready songs on Underground than there are introspective songs, which is fine. But there comes a point where you need to put away the stereotypes and tell us a story. I’m not saying the club ready songs are bad, in fact, they are incredibly catchy and fun to listen to. But I was ready for a lot of awesome stories that he had on his mixtapes, but I found myself wanting more than what I actually got. Maybe it was because of the record company pressure, maybe he just wanted to change it up. Again, Live From The Underground is good, and if you’re a fan of his you won’t be dissapointed. But K.R.I.T. just didn’t hit the bar he set for himself – only by inches.
Final Grade: B+
Go Download: “Don’t Let Me Down”