Music Reviews
K.R.I.T. IZ HERE

Big K.R.I.T. K.R.I.T. IZ HERE

(Multi Alumni / B.M.G.) Buy it from Insound Rating - 4/10

I need to preface this review with a revealing declaration: Mississippi’s own Justin Scott, a.k.a. Big K.R.I.T. (King Remembered in Time), is one of my personal favorite hip hop artists of the 2010s. From his breakthrough mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, its immaculate follow-up Return of 4Eva, the sprawling, Miltonian, monumental double album 4Eva Is a Mighty Long Time, and every banger in between, Krit has consistently kept me engaged in the more artisanal side—a large portion of his music is self-produced— of Southern hip hop. My personal introduction to his work was Return, which was released in 2011 and remains a go-to rap record of mine when nothing else catches my fancy, a definite highlight of the decade for the Deep, Dirty South.

But a lot has happened since then. In the time between those early mixtapes and now, Krit has signed to a major label, unsigned from the same major label, and founded his own label, all while regularly dropping tapes, EPs, and compilations. And though he’s hit plenty of home-runs, Krit is no stranger to underwhelming releases, either. The first chink in his armor shone through on 2012’s Live from the Underground, his full-length studio debut with Def Jam. On Underground, Krit, armed with big label money for the first time, attempted to expand his booming, soulful sound with high-profile features from Ludacris and Bun B while retaining the kernel of what made his music great in the first place. While no means a bad record or even a mediocre one, it didn’t quite match the energy or cohesion of his more DIY-spirited mixtapes. Fortunately, he would eventually achieve this feat of balancing mass appeal and originality in 2017 with Mighty Long Time, but I’m sad to say that Krit’s most recent effort, K.R.I.T. Iz Here, is deeply disappointing. In fact, I should stop mincing words. This album is one of my biggest letdowns of 2019 thus far, and its title does not deserve to reference one of Krit’s best and most important releases.

In stark contrast to tracks like See Me on Top and Country Shit on Wuz, Iz rarely commands your attention with trunk-rattling beats or clever lyrics—the spare moments that do perk your ears up do so out of puzzlement. Consider track seven, Obvious. That song made me wince each and every it came on whenever I played through the album in preparation for this review, and I don’t understand what his intent was with it. It’s so jarring compared to the rest of the tracklist here, sounding like a bum Drake B-side instead of a Big K.R.I.T. song, complete with bland, chintzy production. It was the first time I had ever asked myself, “What the hell was he thinking?” while listening to a Krit project. And though that song is easily the record’s lowest point, I’m baffled to say that the majority of the cuts here aren’t much better. So much of Iz just blends together into a balmy, gelatinous goop of trap-flavored maquettes that could’ve come from anyone, let alone Big K.R.I.T., someone who I have always looked towards for quality bangers.

The album’s saving grace is its first quarter with tracks like opener K.R.I.T. Here and Make It Easy, the closest it ever comes to reaching the operatic heights of Mighty Long. In fact, this LP bummed me out so much that I had to revisit 4Eva Is a Mighty Long Time and Return of 4Eva to remind myself why I love Krit so much. He’s completely capable of crafting incredible hip hop, we all know that. It’s what makes K.R.I.T. Iz Here that much more disappointing; Krit is better than this.