Review: Big K.R.I.T., Scotty ATL & Smoke DZA Left NYC’s Highline Ballroom On The Highest Note

Live Reviews

Big K.R.I.T. makes sure that his fans understand that it’s ok to have hardships, but one must smash all roadblocks that come with dream chasing. When K.R.I.T. isn’t sprinkling game at some shawty or proving how nice his wordplay is, he’s dropping jewels of inspiration. His pieces of guiding light don’t give off a sobering feeling, though. It’s more of a #Lituation.

Last Wednesday (Oct. 28), the Meridian, Mississippi country boy brought that high octane southern flavor to a packed out Highline Ballroom on his Kritically Acclaimed tour as he performed songs off his 2014 Cadillactica album. But before K.R.I.T. served the NYC crowd, budding spitter Scotty ATL and Harlem’s own Smoke DZA held down the warm up.

Scotty took the stage rocking black shorts, black hoody and black locs as he ran through a few tracks off his latest mixtape, The Cooligan. The ATL native is just as cool on stage as he is on wax. His calm demeanor and slick flow was enough to hold the crowd over during his brief set.

However, the Big Apple crowd knew about Smoke DZA. The Harlem spitter donned vintage Rotten Apple attire—Timberland boots, baggy jeans and a matching jean jacket, McDonald’s All American basketball jersey and a red Los Angeles Clippers bucket hat. DZA, along with special guest Pete Rock on ones and twos, put on for the stoners. The Uptown native ran through some of his street faves like “Personal Party,” “The World” and “Hearses,” among others. Smoke lit the stage (pun intended) as fans rolled up, choked on OG and sipped Henny while rapping every word with the child of Harlem.

However, everyone knew that country boy K.R.I.T. was the main attraction on this rainy NYC night, and just after the clock struck 10 p.m. that’s exactly what the crowd of liquor gulpers got. An enthusiastic K.R.I.T.—dipped in all black, rocking black and gold Jordan 11’s with a thin gold chain dangling off his neck—stormed the stage to a thundering applause while delivering a vigorous performance to his cut, “Life.”  And just like that, a high level of energy and inspiration set the tone for the rest of the night.

The healthy looking Def Jam artist bounced around the stage like a graceful cornerback playing the field. Seeing K.R.I.T. run through his combative cut “King of the South,” and the way the crowd bounced in unison, mouthing every word, made it seem as if the Highline Ballroom was planet Cadillactica, and K.R.I.T was a god commanding his Earthlings with his mere words.

Now, everybody knows that K.R.I.T. has a thing for Cadillacs. In fact, his DJ‘s booth is an actual front end of an old school Caddy. But he asked the crowd’s permission to rep’ for the Monte Carlos. Of course the concertgoers egged K.R.I.T. on with earsplitting screams and yells of  ’86,’ ’86,’ ’86.’ K.R.I.T. beamed a childlike smile, admiring his fans for their enthusiasm. Once the beat dropped to “’86,” a cut off his recently released It’s Better This Way, the crowd went bananas. Liquor was spilled, blunts of OG were dropped and pulled on, and many shoulders bumped into each other as K.R.I.T. ran through “86,” then “My Sub Pt. 3 (Big Bang).” One couldn’t help but see traces of UGK and Eightball & MJG inside of K.R.I.T. as he rapped about swangin’ down on that slab.

Just as the energy level seemed to peak, K.R.I.T. slowed it down for the women, rolling through tracks, “Third Eye,” “Mind Control” and “Pay Attention.” There were more than a few alluring ladies in the crowd slow grinding to the aforementioned cuts. K.R.I.T. even got his Keith Sweat on by grabbing hands with a few eye candies while spitting that country game of his. This was probably first and only time ladies had a chance to get romantic—in their third eye—with the rap star. But K.R.I.T. not only interacted with the ladies. He made a habit of looking fellas in the eye also (pause) while dropping bars. K.R.I.T. understands that fans like to know that their presence is appreciated.

The night wouldn’t be right if the Southerner didn’t remind the crowd of hip-hop heads to obliterate those unavoidable tough times. “When you doing everything you supposed to do, the people around you are doing everything that they’re supposed to do but you still can’t get over that hump, and you say to yourself: ‘I bet Angels get high, too.’” The Ballroom reacted with cheers and yells as the beat dropped to the sobering “Angels.” Motivating is when K.R.I.T. is at his best, and his stage antics are turned up a notch. In doing so, his on-stage passion is passed off to his fans.

K.R.I.T. also took some time to address his place in these hip-hop streets. “You know, people always say to me, ‘Man, you underrated. We need that radio hit so more people can know about you.’ “But all that radio sh** sound the same. So, this song is for them.” He then ran through “It’s Better This Way,” from his mixtape of the same name.  Here, he addressed the redundancy of radio hits, claiming that they all sound the same and celebrate “the very things in life that slow us down.”

Overall, K.R.I.T.’s stage presence is demanding yet ebullient, inspiring yet energetic. Therefore, he’s able to provide profound moments without killing the turn up vibe. Yes, he raps from a underdog POV, but his lively performance only made K.R.I.T.’s up-from-the-mud story much more intriguing.

The night concluded with his lyrically vicious “Mt. Olympus,” with him doing the last two verses a cappella. That was just another way for the Crooked Letta native to flex his mic skills (Ed. note: His breath control is crazy!). “Mt. Olympus” was the perfect way to cap off the night and a clever way to say what K.R.I.T has been saying since inking his deal with Def Jam: Dude can rap his a** off and inspire listeners without talking about selling drugs, killing, or drug addiction. Furthermore, he doesn’t need a radio hit for one to respect him as, arguably, one of the best MCs in the game.