Rating: 8.5 / 10
Big K.R.I.T’s been one of the shining examples in recent history on how to go about reinventing yourself for the masses. Although several projects and mixtapes served as precursors to this point, it’s safe to say that most of his fans jumped on board after the publicity he received for the cohesiveness of Krit Wuz Here, which he maintained through Return Of 4Eva, and solidified with 4Eva N A Day. The reviews mostly praised the Mississippi native for being able to cater to both ears and hearts through his content; listeners enjoyed the Southern production throughout, and those looking for more than just beats were pleased with songs that truly made you think (“Children of the World”, “Red Eye”). K.R.I.T. established himself as a threat from almost every possible angle, and it’s been fun to watch.
With that being said, there were questions that went along with his debut. Would the quality decrease? Would it be a watered-down version of his projects? Would it sound completely different than what we expect? Although most of those questions are legit, one playthrough of Live From The Underground will assure you that it’s still jamming, and it’s still the same ol’ K.R.I.T. that made you a fan.
Taking on yet another theme, the intro to Live (“LFU300MA”) has the listener stumbling upon a pre-recording that advises you to adjust your volume and enjoy. K.R.I.T.’s said in many interviews that he wanted it to feel like an underground record “crash-landed” in the mainstream mold, and the loose theme of the project sets that up. The familiar bass-heavy melodies are back and soulful, and K.R.I.T. goes into a spoken word delivery that slowly eases you into the vibe for the following songs. Background harmonies make the verses and hooks fun to listen to as well, enhancing it with a close attention to detail that’s scarcely seen in Southern projects since the days when OutKast used to drop projects together.
A seemingly lost art in music is the gift of sequencing, and K.R.I.T. has that gift. He’s fine-tuned it with each release leading up to his debut and has it all but mastered here. The album flows together almost flawlessly, with slower tempo songs like “Money On The Floor” (with 8Ball, MJG, and 2 Chainz) and “Don’t Let Me Down” being used to hinge the different styles together. The pacing makes it that much easier for K.R.I.T. to dive into incredible songs, such as the Devin The Dude-assisted slacker anthem “Hydroplaning”, the introspective flow on “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, and the soulful B.B. King collaboration on “Praying Man”.
Even though the album flows remarkably well, it’s still of note to notice that a few of the songs here have extremely repetitive hooks (“Yeah Dats Me”, “Pull Up”). However, even those songs have other more dominant factors that make it worth listening to; “Yeah Dats Me” is a high-energy track in spirit, and “Pull Up” has a couple of solid verses from UGK-representative Bun B and Big Sant, who’s been a staple on almost every Big K.R.I.T. project (if not all). It’s also of note to point out that a couple of the songs from 4Eva N A Day might’ve served a better purpose being here instead of there (“Temptation” comes to mind).
As it stands, Live From The Underground is a great LP with some incredible high points. It’s rare when an artist can actually have his "underground" sound translate so well to his debut project, but Big K.R.I.T. has somehow done just that. Regardless of if you think it matches up with his mixtapes or not, the music’s just good all around and is permeated with that Southern flair. If you’re a fan of K.R.I.T., you’re going to want to support this one, and if you’re not… Live From The Underground might just make you one.