DAR Hip Hop: Ranking Big K.R.I.T.'s Projects
With hip hop the way it is now, there are very few artists who capture the emotion and soul that hip hop was truly built on. One artist that manages to do that exceptionally well is Big K.R.I.T., the soul searching Mississippi native who began reaching a larger audience in 2010 with the release of his breakthrough project "K.R.I.T. Wuz Here". Since then, K.R.I.T. has maintained a level of consistency that's mostly unrivaled in today's game. With that being said, we wanted to take a look at all of his official releases since 2010, and rank them from worst to best. Which project makes it to no. 1? Let's get into it.
8. Live From The Underground (2012)
-I don't hate this album honestly like many of his fans do. I understand why it takes some criticism as it is literally an attempt to gain commercial acceptance in spurts and is a bit uneven. K.R.I.T. sounds comfortable at certain points on the album, but his major label debut definitely fell way short of the expectations his prior projects and there was something off with the cohesion and sequencing. Still, the album had some bright spots, with guest appearances from Devin The Dude, Melanie Fiona, Anthony Hamilton, Bun B, Big Sant, 2 Chainz, 8Ball & MJG, Ludacris, and surprisingly, the legend B.B. King. Tracks like "Praying Man" and "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" showcase his depth, while a banger like "Money On The Floor" showcased that he could make a possible hit. Overall, this is definitely his worst project, but it has some good moments for listeners to enjoy.
7. 4Eva N A Day (2012)
-I actually enjoyed this project a lot, but something about it just feels a little too standard for K.R.I.T. honestly. It was better than his debut album at Def Jam with no question, but the lack of guest appearances might have been a slight issue for the project. Still, K.R.I.T. manages to coast over most of the tracks here and with some smoother production than the two releases prior, this was set up to be a potential classic. There are a few songs that I don't really replay, but with tracks like the jazzy opener "Wake Up", the all time classic "Boobie Miles", and "Handwriting", it's hard to not enjoy this project. Overall, this is just a notch below K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and Return of 4Eva, but still mostly better than anything else that came out in hip hop that year, including his own major label debut.
6. It's Better This Way (2015)
-The most underrated project from K.R.I.T. in his career. This mixtape was released in late 2015, and I was instantly intrigued to see the direction that K.R.I.T. would take on the project. The truth is, I feel like this is the forgotten project from K.R.I.T. in a way which is why it is ranked a bit lower, but quality wise, this release is on par with his best, and that says a lot about the work he put in. There are a few songs that don't exactly hit the mark like you would hope, but there are moments where everything aligns perfectly. With features from Big Sant, Young Dolph, Ludacris, Warren G, and more, K.R.I.T. puts together a nice piece of art that showcases some amazing songs like "King Pt. 4", "Party Tonight", "No Static", "Vanilla Sky", and of course the title track, which is a perfect way to end off this mixtape. This is a severely underrated release that deserves a bit more credit.
5. Cadillactica (2014)
-His second album on Def Jam wasn't met with the universal mainstream appeal that the label had hoped, but it was a good album nonetheless. I hold it in high regard personally, but I know in the catalog of K.R.I.T., this album isn't at the very top. It's somewhere in the middle honestly, showcasing his true growth as an artist, but also showing that he stays in his lane to the max. What makes this project a little different is the fact that K.R.I.T. utilized different producers throughout, as he received contributions from DJ Dahi, Rico Love, Jim Jonsin, Alex Da Kid, Raphael Saadiq, and Terrace Martin, all making for a rather ecletic soundbed that flows very well. There are guest appearances from Wiz Khalifa, E-40, Bun B, Big Sant, Devin The Dude, and Lupe Fiasco, with the best songs on this project being "Kreation", "Soul Food", and my personal favorite, "Angels". Overall, Cadillactica is much better than his major label debut, but still doesn't make the top 3 of this list because it lacks the elements that made those particular albums near classics to classics. Still, this is a really good listen.
4. K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010)
-Many people love this mixtape/album, but in all honesty, my appreciation for it came much later. This was the breakthrough project for K.R.I.T. after a few mixtapes prior to this failed to give him the national acclaim he deserved. When K.R.I.T. came across my radar, he was special. Producing and writing all of his songs, K.R.I.T. came out of the gate with southern fried anthems and a beautiful mix of bass knocking production and soulful rhythms. With only guest appearances from Devin The Dude, Big Sant, Curren$y, Smoke DZA, and Wiz Khalifa, this project captures the essence of K.R.I.T. in his beginning. With 20 total tracks on the project, K.R.I.T. delivers from top to bottom, with tracks like "Moon & Stars", "See Me On Top", "Country Shit", "I Gotta Stay", "Something", and my personal favorite "No Wheaties". Overall, this isn't my personal favorite K.R.I.T. project, but because of the importance it represents to his success and career, there's no way I could have the top four at least without this album.
3. Return Of 4Eva (2011)
-One of my favorite releases of 2011, this project is responsible for some of my all time favorite K.R.I.T. tracks and quite possibly my favorite K.R.I.T. track of all time. I actually believe this project might be slightly better than K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, as it is more concise, even though it doesn't have quite the same impact to his career honestly. I think this project is a bit more free flowing than his previous, while still keeping the flavor that lured his fans in before. If anything, this project is a bit more poignant and more soul bearing, but perhaps lacking a bit in trunk rattling anthems that his breakthrough project had. You could flip a coin between those two and whatever answer you come up with wouldn't be incorrect. This one is a bit more ambitious however, with features from Bun B, Ludacris, David Banner, Joi, Raheem Devaughn, Big Sant, and Chamillionaire, providing a variety of southern sounds and voices to assist K.R.I.T. in his mission. However, the strength in this project rests within the personal tracks like "Free My Soul", "Highs And Lows", "Dreamin", and most of all, "The Vent", which is the best song on the album, and as I mentioned earlier, possibly the best song in K.R.I.T.'s career. It's so vivid, so raw, and helps to cap off a very personal and honest project that I actually think is slightly underrated in his catalog.
2. King Remembered In Time (2013)
-I have a personal appreciation for this project. 2013 was a really tough year in general for me. I went through a lot, and honestly, music was my form of solace. In addition to making my own music, I turned to a few albums for musical therapy. The project that was in rotation the most? This one. Perhaps my ranking of this project is higher than what most would rank it, but personally, for the last 4 years, there was no way I could put any other K.R.I.T. release over this one. This project fixed the issues that plagued the previous two albums from K.R.I.T., showing that he is able to bounce back from two releases that didn't necessarily get the most critical acclaim. The production here is diverse as expected, and 9th Wonder even contributed a beat to this as well, marking a small departure from the self production that K.R.I.T. was notorious for on his own projects. That lone contribution from 9th led to the classic BJ The Chicago Kid featured "Life Is A Gamble", but there are so many other tracks on this mixtape/album that are flawless. Whether it's the smooth "Only One" with Smoke DZA and Wiz Khalifa, the epic "Bigger Picture", the Outkast tinged "Meditate", or the groovy yet slightly somber "REM", K.R.I.T doesn't disappoint on this amazing piece of work. This is my favorite K.R.I.T. mixtape, and it's right there as the best work of his career without question.
1. 4Eva Is A Mighty Long Time (2017)
-Perhaps this is too soon to call. Maybe. However, I don't think it's too soon to call this the best work of K.R.I.T.'s career. It's not everyday that we see an artist go out and make an album that literally sounds and feels like they put their entire mind, body, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into it, but K.R.I.T. is exactly that type of artist and it shines bright here. With this recent double album release, K.R.I.T. set himself apart from the rest of the pack, with his double album essentially being split into two separate projects. The first disc is the "Big K.R.I.T." side, while the second disc is more "Justin Scott" and personal. Still, both discs are about as perfect as you can get from K.R.I.T. and there's not a single song on the album that I dislike, which is extremely rare these days. From the opening intro to the final note of the album, it doesn't disappoint and has so many classics on it. From "Layup" to "1999" to "Get Away" to "Mixed Messages" to "Drinking Sessions" to "Price Of Fame" to "Aux Cord" to "Everlasting" to "Higher Calling" to "The Light" to the epic finale "Bury Me In Gold", this album is full of great songs, and it all flows so well. It's cohesive, it's concise, the sequencing is perfect, the music is as close to perfect as you can, and that's why it's K.R.I.T.'s greatest creation musically. It's that simple.