When I first caught wind that Big K.R.I.T. was coming out with a new album, I didn’t know what to think. Live From the Underground was a solid release, but it didn’t have the same polish and refinement that made me put K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, 4Eva N a Day, and Return of 4Eva in constant rotation in the whip. It had the same vibes and down home Southern feeling, but it lacked the refinement that one would expect from a debut major album release. This was because when it was time to release the album, so many of the samples that he had used to create the album hadn’t been cleared. K.R.I.T. had to redo much of the album without samples, which inevitably changed the overall product. However, this time around the multitalented rapper & producer vowed that things would be different. This time around… we got Cadillactica.
Being familiar with the music of Big K.R.I.T., I knew from jump that the best way to enjoy the album was to play it in my car. So, as soon as I ripped the cellophane from the CD case, I dusted off my car cd player and put it to use. What immediately stood out to me was the fact that that I truly felt like I was transported to a different world, and was being taken for a ride with every track.
With his sophomore release K.R.I.T. sets out to introduce the listener to the planet of Cadillactica. It’s of his own creation and is a metaphor for his subconscious, representing his perspective as an underground artist who is thrust into the mainstream. This references the album cover from Live From the Underground, where the car has crash-landed on Earth. The album itself sets out to showcase the lifespan on the planet Cadillactica from creation to fulfillment. This extended metaphor is present throughout the entire project. The attempt to create a concept album is difficult within itself because the artist must not only tell stay true to the concept, but also make all of the individual tracks unique in order to keep the listener’s attention. K.R.I.T. does this seemingly effortlessly. From the beginning to the end the songs are seamlessly woven together, making it damn near impossible to skip a song.
This time around K.R.I.T. assured us that the album was going to be like the releases of old. Not only was he going to use beats from different producers, but he was also going to be less reliant on samples to carry the instrumentation of his music. On this album he allowed DJ Dahi, Raphael Saadiq, Terrace Martin, Jim Jonsin, and Alex da Kid to assist with production. Not only did this give him more space to work on the concept of the album, but also gave him an opportunity to flow over different types of sounds. Don’t get it twisted, the album is still as Southern as ham hocks and collard greens, but the subtle hints and turns make for a more interesting and varied listen.
For instance, in “Angels,” the live instrumentation creates a colorful tapestry of sound that would make your uncle wanna pour a glass that brown liquor and reminisce. The bluesy track was created by none other than LA’s own Terrace Martin. On the song “Pay Attention,” one of the singles, DJ Dahi teams up with K.R.I.T. to create a track that surrounds the listener in a sea of unique and hollow sounds, adding to the melancholy subject matter of the song. Just when you start to get used to the collaborative production efforts, K.R.I.T. will mix in one of his own self-produced tracks that reminds you why you got the album in the first place. Songs like “My Sub, Pt. 3” or “King of the South” drive the album home, while rattling your trunk like King Kong with heavy bass, furious lyrics, and powerful drums.
The lyricism on the album is crazy. When K.R.I.T. released “Mt. Olympus” as an answer to Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” freestyle, it was obvious that the bar had been set much higher than before for his next project. One can even argue that it set the tone for the rest of the album. K.R.I.T. makes the claim that rappers from the South are being overlooked when it comes to being considered lyrical heavyweights in the game. While hip-hop has always had numerous regional influences and biases, some artists and tastemakers give credit to rappers all over the country on the basis of their lyricism except for the South. While this has been a hurdle that many Southern artists have overcome, K.R.I.T. comes forthright and demands to be heard.
This album truly shows the growth of an artist. The lyrics are more aggressive and confident. Throughout the album, he isn’t afraid to be introspective and look at himself and the state of the world around him. His honesty isn’t in an overemotional sense that has made some rappers (Drake) famous. It’s more mature than that, reminiscent of the Southern rappers of old who told their story exactly how it was and could still hit you at your core. Maybe it’s because I’m a ‘Kast stan myself, but this album reminded me of ATLiens. A space age theme and Southern roots were characteristic of both sophomore albums, both of which came from artists who had something to prove. Only time will tell if Cadillactica will be able to stand on it’s own as ATLiens has.
My standout tracks on the album are “Cadillactica”, “My Sub Pt. 3”, “King of the South”, “Angels”, and “Soul Food.”