Big K.R.I.T. has the Midas touch. K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, his 2010 project, had hip-hop heads north and south of the Mason-Dixon hungry for more. 4eva N a Day kept them satiated. They heavily anticipated his debut album Live from the Underground. But with his latest mixtape, King Remembered in Time, it’s clear he's struck gold.
Judging by hip-hop blogs, music critic reviews and die-hards quoting lyrics up and down his timeline, the Meridian, Mississippi native has been given the stamp of approval. With summer drawing nearer and nearer, he’s ready to turn up the heat. Apart from his bustling performance schedule and a couple barbeques, he’s channeling his energy into his TBA forthcoming album. He already gave us a heads up on a probable new single – “Just Last Week” featuring Future is officially a full song – but he’s taking his time with this one. He's after perfection. “I'll spend as long as it takes on one song, on one verse, on one tape to make sure it sounds like it's supposed to,” K.R.I.T. says.
VIBE caught up with the self-proclaimed rap king to discuss the success of his latest mixtape, future album expectations and the sights and sounds of a summertime south. –Stacy-Ann Ellis (@stassi_x)
VIBE: Congrats on the new mixtape. How does it feel to know King Remembered in Time is being so well received?
Big K.R.I.T.: Man, it's amazing. It's beautiful. Coming from dropping my album in June to touring and people anticipating the music, I want to show growth. Making something that can shock the people like I did the first time I dropped K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, and to see the response, it's overwhelming. Because I didn't know. I worked on the project up to two hours until we dropped it. I dropped it and it was like, them nerves, them butterflies came because you never know. From there, it was just love. It made me feel like creatively I'm still in the space I need to be and you can still hear the hunger in my music.
Looking back at on what you've done in the past, what direction were you trying to take with this mixtape?
I would say I was trying to, again, show growth and then… It's like, I don't want to say reinvent, but reintroduce myself one more time. It's just been so much space between dropping my album and having that creative space to sample whatever I want, use whatever I want. You only really get to do that on your free projects, because other than that, you deal with so much with clearances and business. But with these free projects, I can be in the studio and I can make 20 records and I can drop all 20 if I want. We still treat ‘em like albums but I just want to show my growth. I'm getting older. I still like to talk about every topic and show both sides of the spectrum, but I can be as creative as I want to be. I don't have to conform to what traditional songs sound like.
Is it the same kind of energy and effort for an album that you put into a mixtape? Or is it totally different?
I think it's a pressure. Nobody expects your mixtape to come out. They don't know when it's coming out. You just tell ‘em, “I'm going to drop a free project.” It's received when they get it. Your album on the other hand is promo. Mad promotion. Promo tours and the rollout and the single and here's my album. Now I gotta talk about it. It's more business attached and it's more strategic as per say dropping a free project and praying that people enjoy the music. That, to me, was the difference. It's just a lot of pressure. But I'm not going to let it happen with this next album. Understanding sample clearances and understanding how much time I really have to work on this project; I'm gonna take my time. I'm going to get all the samples cleared and everything taken care of so I won't have to replay something or I won't have to hear two weeks before the project comes out that I can't use this song. That's never good.
So you're not going to put a date on it yet?
Oh no. Uh-uh. I just dropped this body of work and I'm going to let that live for a while.
Any personal favorites?
I would say "Bigger Picture" is one of my personal favorites. Also "My Trunk," "REM," "WTF" and "Meditate."
What about crowd favorites?
Crowd favorites are all the turn-up records. “Just Last Week,” "Talkin Bout Nothing," "My Trunk," and I haven't done "How U Luv That" with Big SANT yet but I'm sure that's a record people are going to turn up to.
You're big on production. What influences your instrumental choices and how you put it all together?
For me, it starts with an idea or a topic in the beginning. Like a conversation with somebody. I can draw inspiration from that and come up with something. From there, it's about finding a sample; finding a drum kit. It could start with a snare, something that really fits the vibe of where I'm trying to go. And then a lot of time in the studio, because I want to make sure that the song is super cohesive, that the mix, the blend and the hook, everything has to make sense and sound heartfelt.
What comes first: the words or the beat?
Normally the topic, then the beat, then the rhymes. Well, the hook then the rapping part.
Has it ever switched around?
No. No. I really can't write a song unless I have some kind of instrumentation. Because I don't want to just throw this verse on any beat.
If you didn't already plan it out, what producers and artists would you like to collaborate with next?
Well I had the opportunity to be in the studio with Organized Noize not too long ago and David Banner, so I'm definitely going to work with them as far as production is concerned. [I’d like] to do a song with OutKast as a whole, Cee Lo Green, One Republic, Adele -- and I'm shooting high, but I want you to tell people about this, maybe hopefully she'll hear it -- Death Cab For Cutie. To be able to do a song with Scarface, I don't have a song with Scarface as yet. So who knows what might be on my album.
How was it working with Fantasia Barrino on “Supernatural Love”?
She reached out and she wanted to work and for me, I was like hell yeah! I knew she was going to send me the kind of record that would put me in another element, which is dope. Even while coming up with the content for the verse, I was excited for her fan base to hear this, because a lot of them may have not ever heard of me as a rapper before. I feel blessed to be a part of her project and that she sought me out to jump on it.
What’s going on with you for the rest of the summer?
I got a West Coast tour coming up. We’re doing seven days, so if people go to BigKRIT.com then they can see all the dates and keep up with what I got going on. Lord willing, we’ll do a "King Remembered in Time" tour here soon. We’re going to be on the road though. They can bet that.
Any that you’ll go to just to watch?
I don’t know. I get to be a part of Bonnaroo this year, so I’m not 100% sure of who’s on the list but the fact that I get to be a part of it, I’m excited about it. I’m going to have to bring a band to that though. You gotta turn up at Bonnaroo.
What’s your ultimate cookout playlist?
Southernplayalistic[cadillacmuzik]. Well you can pretty much play that whole album from OutKast. We’re talking ‘bout Aquemini. UGK Ridin Dirty. Depending on who’s there, you can give ‘em the clean version. There might be a lot of old folk that don’t like all the cussing. Bobby Womack Anthology. The Mack by Willie Hutch. Three 6 Mafia “Tear Da Club Up,” because by that time, you done drunk a lot of alcohol. Everybody’s turnt up at the barbecue. There’ll be some Master P, “Make Em Say Uhh!” Some Kilo [Ali], depending on if we’re in Atlanta or not, for all my folks that know about bounce music.
What’s on your typical cookout plate?
Man! Some brisket, macaroni and cheese and some rolls. Some ribs, depending on who made ‘em though. Everybody can’t cook ‘em like that. Some hamburgers. Probably no vegetables. It’s just like that. Maybe a baked potato or something. And some alcohol. Shout out to Crown Royal.
What’s the best thing about summer in the South?
Just everybody being outside and having fun. The southern hospitality, the women that come out and kick it and chill, the pool parties and candy cars, the club nights. Being on the porch and being able to hang out with my folk. I think that happens everywhere, but I think the hot aspect of the south is dope. It’s real summer. I really plan on going back and having some kind of barbeque of my own. Just kick it and chill, but you can be anywhere to do that though.