Live from the Underground (2012)
by Big K.R.I.T.
Recalling a time when UGK and Scarface were the dominating Southern sound, Mississippi rapper/producer Big K.R.I.T. -- which stands for King ... Show synopsis Recalling a time when UGK and Scarface were the dominating Southern sound, Mississippi rapper/producer Big K.R.I.T. -- which stands for King Remembered In Time -- stone-cold rapped his way up through the mixtape underground, keeping quality control at top level by riding his own beats and delivering those right-clickable, free releases that came with the solid structure of something issued by Def Jam. Now that he's actually on the label, Live from the Underground lives it up with as much style and flash as a Hype Williams video, and while his beats are impeccable (and fatter than before with that big money mastering) and the flow remains precise and commanding, there's that rocky, whirlwind feeling overall that's more akin to an ambitious Twista or Birdman album, a sharp right turn after K.R.I.T.'s previous love of cohesiveness. That might weigh heavy on those looking for a chart-topping revival of the vintage South right here and right now, but K.R.I.T.'s already revived that style for those who actively sought it out, so his exploration of major-label life comes with the expected power and soul ("I Got This" is a busy, hook-filled monster, "My Sub" is the kind of stern trunk-rumbler that defines the Trill attitude) plus some surprising pop experiments that don't stun, but keep their footing ("If I Fall" with Melanie Fiona gets into dreamy B.o.B. territory, while "Praying Man" enlists B.B. King for a pleasant blend of Mississippi musics). As the spirit of the Beatles and Billy Preston provides the cool groove of "Don't Let Me Down" and the great wisdom of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" -- never has a safe sex message been delivered with such respect for a young audience's preferred language -- expands the lyricist's already wide horizon, Live from the Underground winds up both an easy introduction to the man's talents and a crowd-pleasing effort with no stale sell-out aftertaste. He could have gone deeper, but this is certainly deep enough. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi