Big K.R.I.T.: Big Heart, Thick Drawl Female-soul backup and defiant pride are also part of the Mississippi rapper's appeal.
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Big K.R.I.T.: Big Heart, Thick Drawl

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Big K.R.I.T.: Big Heart, Thick Drawl

Review

Music Reviews

Big K.R.I.T.: Big Heart, Thick Drawl

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

In 2010, the rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T. landed a record deal with Def Jam Records. Music critics marked him for success and then they waited. Well, finally, Big K.R.I.T. is about to release his first official album. Our critic Robert Christgau gives us an introduction to the rapper through some of his earlier material.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "4EVANADAY")

ROBERT CHRISTGAU, BYLINE: At 25, Big K.R.I.T. seems halfway to stardom. Although he's never had an official album, he's been releasing free mixtapes regularly since 2005. His 2010 "K.R.I.T. Wuz Here" won him a contract with Def Jam. 2011's "Return of 4Eva" made many top 10 lists. And a few months ago, "4Eva N a Day" went on the Web gratis after sampling issues held up its commercial release.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "4EVA N A DAY")

CHRISTGAU: The thick drawl, female soul backup, defiant pride and deep-seated stick-to-itiveness are all part of the Big K.R.I.T package. Most aspiring hip-hop artists make keep grinding a motto. But for K.R.I.T., persistence in the face of adversity is a central theme.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOOBIE MILES")

CHRISTGAU: The football coach pep talk is pure K.R.I.T.: Get back up when you fall. And when you get the ball, you better give your all. But so is the solid, rolling beat and syrupy tenor sax. K.R.I.T. conceives soul as a continuum running from Otis Redding to Barry White and beyond. He's steeped in hip-hop history and cites many Southern rappers as influences. But no earlier rapper has brought so much soul feel to his beats and delivery or such down-home moralism to his content.

K.R.I.T. has some street in him. But in a genre where rhythmic novelty and straight-up hedonism are commercial staples, it's his old-fashioned music and old-fashioned values that brand him. Hear how he mourns his grandmother in "Yesterday."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YESTERDAY")

CHRISTGAU: Big K.R.I.T.'s Def Jam debut, "Live From the Underground," will feature a B.B. King cameo and is scheduled for a June 5th release. It will hit the charts high. These are far less hopeful times than the mid-'60s. But Big K.R.I.T.'s openhearted directness reminds me a little of Otis Redding, anyway.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COUNTRY RAP TUNES")

SIEGEL: Reviewer Robert Christgau telling us about the music of rapper and producer Big K.R.I.T.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COUNTRY RAP TUNES")

SIEGEL: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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