Album Review: Big K.R.I.T.: Cadillactica

What sophomore slump?

Big K.R.I.T. made the kind of noise that most rappers could only dream of with his first album, K.R.I.T Wuz Here, a “breakout” album in every sense of the word. The then 24year old MC and producer put the hopes and dreams of his home state of Mississippi on his back, and made sure the world of hip-hop knew his name. The album was filled with anxiety, anger, and ambition. That raw emotion made K.R.I.T Wuz Here a modern classic, but it also held it back. At some point you have to stop worrying about the world taking notice, and just do your thing. Cadillactica works as well as it does because it is K.R.I.T.’s sole focus. No longer worried about the world around him, he has created one of his own.

It’s almost a cheat to call Cadillactica a sophomore album. Since his first studio release in 2010, K.R.I.T. has dropped four moderately successful mixtapes in the interim, each one expanding his reach, and sharpening his skills. The concept behind his newest album is the creation of planet Cadillactia by K.R.I.T. as he cruises through space in his own supped up Cadillac. Each track represents a different step in the process of creating the planet.

A large part of what makes this concept work is the collaborative nature of the creation. During the first four tracks, K.R.I.T. has sole control over Cadillactica. On “Kreation,” the lines drip and maneuver through the eerie beat. His descriptions of otherworldly creation and hope for the new world brings relaxation and serenity. You can almost see him venturing into the barren planet, slowly bringing life to the world around him, digging his hands into the soil, and creating a utopia. It seamlessly flows into the next song, “Life,” which expands fully on the intro, while giving some back story to the expedition. “Life” is the most similar to any song on his first album. He acknowledges all at once that he’s still not where he wants to be, but that he may have found what he was looking for all those years ago on K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. He then starts to have a little more fun with the concept on “My Sub Pt. 3 (Big Bang),” equating the Big Bang Theory of his planet to using a sub woofer in a beat. It’s a simple sound that knocks and grows.

As an artist, K.R.I.T. is known for making his own beats, and expertly at that. However, this has also been one of the critiques held against him, as he has never worked with a sound that wasn’t necessarily his own design. That’s not the case on Cadillactica. While he does produce most of the tracks on the album, he’s allowed several other producers to step behind the boards, with great results. The various features and producers branch K.R.I.T. out just enough to create a truly diverse, yet concise sound. He never loses his own voice and the album excels because of it.

The biggest issue with Cadillactica would be the sequencing. Since the concept songs mostly bookend everything, the middle section of the album, while great, doesn’t gel completely. Mixing more of the cosmic story and production into the middle of the album would have elevated it past a novel idea, to a fully fleshed out work.

Big K.R.I.T. has always worked and performed with a chip on his shoulder. Representing a state, and region, that goes largely ignored, he brought a “why not us” / “why not me” attitude to his music. It was raw, and emotional. On Cadillactica, his sound is slightly more refined. He’s invited more people to the party this time. However, it works as a Trojan horse. Everyone who visits his planet will bring a little piece of K.R.I.T. back home with them. He’s finally made the album his fans knew he could, and did so without compromising his own artistic integrity. It’s not flawless, but it’s exactly what he needed.

Originally published on – Inyourspeakers.com (12/01/2014)

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