Tag Archives: big k.r.i.t.

Mixtape Monday: Wale / Big K.R.I.T. / Danny Brown

Within one week, hip hop fans were inundated with brand new mixtapes from three underground talents. Each tape represents a challenge to the prevailing wisdom about their careers, past, present and future. Wale, despite signing with Maybach Music Group, is still rehabbing his career after his major label misstep Attention: Deficit. Big K.R.I.T. is coming off one of the year’s strongest mixtapes, Return of 4Eva, and expectations couldn’t be higher. And Detroit’s underground sensation Danny Brown released his latest effort on Fool’s Gold for free, blurring the already hazy album vs. mixtape distinction. So, how do the releases match up with expectations?

WaleThe Eleven One Eleven Theory

Despite a definite identity crisis, Wale’s latest presents at least three of his personalities in their best lights. Wale has always been at his best over beats drawn from soul and go-go, and while “Fuck You” might not have Cee-lo on the hook, it finds Wale as excited as ever; the same is true for soul-clapper “Lace Frontin.'” Always somewhat of a head scratcher, his Maybach affiliation appears in orchestral MPC romps like “ChainMusic” and “Bait.”

There are a few too many R&B/rap hybrids for my taste, but bonus track “That Way” is a summer slow jam for the ages. Wale’s sports fanaticism fuels “Pick Six,” “Varsity Blues,” and his take on “BMF,” “Barry Sanders,” while his Jay-Z fixation (“I be feelin’ like H.O.V.A. / when y’all was sleeping on him”) closes the tape. A bit of an outlier, “Ocean Drive” takes Wale from the go go to the dance hall and capitalizes on DC’s tropical trends. Overall, The Eleven One Eleven Theory suggests that Wale is re-energized and ready for this fall’s Ambition; now we just need to see which Wale will show up in November.

Big K.R.I.T.Last King 2 (God’s Machine)

Return of 4Eva was a love song to the golden age of Southern hip hop; those expecting a sequel will be sorely disappointed. Last King 2 is just another mixtape, plagued by the hallmarks of the genre. The lyrical territory is a little too familiar (pimps and hos, grippin’ wood grain, on the corner, etc.) and the beats are a little too paint-by-number. For the most part, neither is handled with the finesse shown on Return of 4Eva.

Guest stars (too many to list here) dominate the tape, so while you get verses from southern legends Bun B, Pimp C, and Slim Thug, K.R.I.T. seems like an afterthought throughout the unfocused proceedings. Still, you could do worse for BBQ / driving music, and this feels like an odds-and-ends appetizer for the main course, next month’s Live from the Underground.

Danny BrownXXX

This is outsider hip hop at its finest. Danny Brown has a polarizing flow that is urgent, manic and a bit off-putting. But with his hipster affectations, tales of drug dealing/abuse, and laugh out loud punchline raps, his talent in undeniable. The production is just as weird as Brown himself, somewhere between Lil B’s based beats and Odd Future’s spooky stalkers.

While it’s occasionally pornographic (“make Sarah Palin deep throat ’til she hiccup”) the title of XXX is a reference to 30, Brown’s age. He’s been hustling (rap and otherwise) for some time now, reportedly getting passed over by 50 Cent because of his skinny jeans. Whatever the reason, this iconoclastic rapper’s moment is now: a grown-up version of Lil B, Odd Future, and Kreayshawn for the WTF generation.

Download: Wale – The Eleven One Eleven Theory
Download: Big K.R.I.T. – Last King 2
Download: Danny Brown – XXX

Mixtape Monday: Big K.R.I.T. and Fat Trel

Last week saw the release of mixtapes from two rising rappers: Big K.R.I.T.’s Return of 4Eva and Fat Trel’s April Foolz. Both artists get to the heart of hip hop in 2011, albeit with divergent styles.

Big K.R.I.T. (an acronym for “King Remembered In Time”) is Justin Scott, a 24-year-old from down south in Meridian, Mississippi (about 100 miles from David Banner’s Jackson home).

Return of 4Eva is pure Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, very much in the Southern G-funk style mastered by Outkast, with hints of UGK and Curren$y. The beats gleam like polished chrome. Soul samples mingle with fresh keys, horns and bass in a refreshing return to a richer era of hip hop production. For his part, K.R.I.T. is crisp and clear, more Big Boi than Three Stacks.

“American Rapstar” is a head-nodder that succinctly pinpoints industry-rap issues: “And they don’t love you till you’re on the ground / Or when you’re maxing out your bank account / …And even if it means you don’t survive the night / But if even if you do you won’t survive the hype / Of an American rapstar.” “Dreamin'” is a down-tempo meditation on similar themes.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/08%20American%20Rapstar.mp3″ text=”Big K.R.I.T. – American Rapstar” dl=1]

The song that burns grooves in your hard drive is “Highs & Lows,” with it’s music-nerd-approved “life ain’t nothing but an EQ of highs and lows” chorus and “I’d Rather Be With You” outro. Any track that references arguably Bootsy Collins’ best song is a winner.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/09%20Highs%20_%20Lows.mp3″ text=”Big K.R.I.T. – Highs & Lows” dl=1]

Lyrically, K.R.I.T. plays in familiar territory, but with his own spin on things. Balancing the stripper tale “Shake It” is the Bamboozle-sampling “A Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism” (K.R.I.T. is all about acronyms, apparently), a conscious-by-way-of-Pac tune.

Return of 4Eva is all killer, no filler. Guest spots by David Banner, Chamillionaire, Raheem DeVaughn, Ludacris, and Bun B are tasteful and not distracting: K.R.I.T. more than holds his own among heavyweights. The future looks bright for this 2011 XXL Freshman.

While Return of 4Eva plays out like a fully-developed album, Fat Trel’s April Foolz is a pure mixtape, for better or for worse. Incessant DJ drops and rewinds distract from the product: Trel’s DC-based trap rap. Like his last tape, the breakout No Secrets, Trel is unapologetic about drugs (dealing and using) and women (sexing and uh, using). Beats are provided by 808 wunderkind Lex Luger and DMV heads E Major and Bassheadz, among others.

“Respect Wit the Tech,” produced by Luger, fits right in with the hitmakers’ other tracks (“Hard in the Paint,” “B.M.F.,” “H.A.M.”) with ratatat rhythms, cinematic synths and gunshot samples. Trel keeps it simple, dropping a chorus built to ride: “I got money / I got power / Got respect with this tech / Got respect with this tech / bust a move and get wet.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/04%20Respect%20Wit%20The%20Tech%20(Prod.%20Lex%20Luger).mp3″ text=”Fat Trel – Respect Wit The Tech (Prod. Lex Luger)” dl=1]

Fat Trel is basically a one-note rapper, but because he hits it so hard yet so effortlessly, he’s the most entertaining and promising rapper in the DMV. This is guilty pleasure rap suited for your next party (or award show riot). His association with Wale’s Board Administration may be over, but a partnership with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music (something he is more well-suited for than Wale) can’t be too far off.

Download: Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva
Download: Fat Trel – April Foolz