Monday, April 18, 2011

15. Album Review: Big K.R.I.T.-"Return of 4eva"

This review was put on hold for at least two months.

     Listening to K.R.I.T Wuz Here, the 2010 release from Mississipi-bred emcee, Big K.R.I.T.(Justin Scott), was for me, a love affair. Every track, golden. One of the most consistently fantastic albums I've heard in a New York minute (pictured), K.R.I.T. Wuz Here had me captivated for weeks on end, completely blown away.

This one really flew under the radar. 

     So naturally, when I saw that Return of 4eva had dropped in late March, I instantly began my free download and eagerly waited for an opportunity to sit down with it. And waited. It took a few days, much to my chagrin, before I was able to properly digest this album, as my work, where I listen to the majority of my music, was being particularly hectic and unreasonable. 

*Raspberry* Safety, last. 

     Upon my first listen, Return of 4eva sounded...odd. Not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, just different. Whereas K.R.I.T. Wuz Here felt extremely polished and streamlined, 4eva sounds borderline gritty in its production. And when I say "gritty", it's not as in something from the likes of RZA or Havoc, grimy and hard-hitting beat-wise, but in terms of fidelity. Initially, I wondered if something was the matter with my headphones, or the EQ settings, but after several listen-throughs I came to the conclusion that Return of 4eva was made to be played on a serious sound system.

Warning: Contains Bass

     My headphones, which are a pretty decent set of Boses, can barely handle the rawness of 4eva's production, so mighty are beats within. This album was meant to leak from the subwoofers, to hiss percussively from every boom car in the South, and rattle the frames of all surrounding vehicles when stopped at a red light. In K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Scott established himself as a highly likable and relatable everyman, possessed with the gift of gab and a knack for perfectly utilizing Soul samples with greater effect than most anyone out there, with perhaps the exception of 'Ye and Exile. I was curious to see in what direction Scott would take this persona, and how he had grown musically within the past year or so. Which means little, as Scott strikes me as the kind of artist who has a sizable catalogue of jams, any of which can be dusted off and structured into a classic with minimal effort. But let's explore this album.

1. R4 Intro
     Ah, the "movement" concept. Well, this is new. My first thought is one tinged with concern, as past "movements" in Hip-Hop music haven't particularly stricken my fancy. I'm not referring to the Hip-Hop movement as a whole (man, that sounded cheesy), but artist-driven camps, such as the Taylor Gang, Young Money, or Kid Cudi's vague, ill-advised REVOFEV.
     Anyway, Scott welcomes us to this album by setting the scene in which he introduced the aforementioned movement. We hear him make his rounds amid the audience, undoubtedly slapping backs, exchanging daps and kissing babies all the while. I hear more greetings directed his way crammed within the first 10 seconds than in the entirety of the Woodrow The Basehead Skit

"Suzie, throw it out the window!"

     Once everyone settles down, Scott delivers the most timid, digressive description of a movement I've ever heard. But unexpectedly, he drops into a nimble little rap, ducking and weaving around inserted roars of applause and the cueing of a big band brass section. The beat builds, my chest swells, and I realize that I appreciate this introduction more and more every time I hear it. The population of this track's instrumental elements, which now includes a slick, running bass, someone crashing the shit out of a drumset, and at least...3 horns who mean serious business, is just about to reach critical mass and send me lapsing into cardiac arrest when the dam bursts and the orgy of horns dissolve into a juicy tizzy. Then the music cuts and an alarm begins to blare. Now dear reader, allow me to ease your passage from this abrasive turn of events into the next track. I myself was taken aback upon first exposure. What, an alarm?  Is this a sample? Was he really sleeping? My. Thoughts. Exactly. Long story short; he was, and it makes sense. He was dreaming! Only by applying his most lofty ambitions from a figurative "dreaming" state, to a literal, heavy REM situated one, could Scott properly convey just how deeply embedded in his mind these aspirations must be. Here's a quote about dreams, in case you don't know what I'm talking about. 
"You eat, in dreams, the custard of the day."
     I took it from Alexander Pope. He's satirical. Kind of like Aesop Rock. Or Das Racist. But with more fashion and less crazy.

Wha-? I don't even know where to begin. From left to right, I suppose. Alright. No, no and no. 

     After the alarm brays a few more times, Scott's roommate, brother, lover, or mother (blessed with an enviably masculine voice, not to mention quite the gutter mouth), raps on his door, prompting Scott to "wake up". Give the man a break, Jesus. 

Shush, Linklater. I'm trying to wake up, and this shit about the Book of Acts isn't helping.
Memorable lines:
None really, but I'll be damned if that instrumental isn't a hot one. Damned to Hell. Or Ghost Town in the Sky. 

Never again.

2. Rise and Shine 

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