SOTBMusic Retrospective: @BIGKRIT - Live From The Underground

A little over five years ago, Big K.R.I.T. dropped his first official release, Live From The Underground. I loved the album because, well, I'm a K.R.I.T. fan and I feel he can do no real wrong (rapping or producing). However, I felt that the album was a bit of a retread of his superior mixtapes, specifically R4 and 4EvaNaDay (which was released a few months before LFTU).


Don't get me wrong, though. I felt that the album was dope, but I wanted more from it (which I ultimately got on the classic Cadillactica). Today, I want to briefly revisit that album to see if my original "3.85 out of 5" holds up or has it grown to be even better than it was when I first reviewed it.


The main thing about K.R.I.T.'s albums (that people don't give enough credit for) is that there's always a continued story. LFTU introduces the intergalactic space and soul traveler Big K.R.I.T. as he navigates between the mainstream and his underground roots. That story is continued through Cadillactica and projects such as It's Better This Way, but this is somewhat where it got its start. And, truth be told, it's a rocky start.


The album still holds up sonically and K.R.I.T. still gives us great nuggets of wisdom (plus, that B.B. King feature!!!). However, there's still an odd feel to the album, as if K.R.I.T. wanted to make something grandiose and Def Jam was just like "eh, maybe next time." You get that sense through the stories and interludes between songs. You get that feeling when K.R.I.T. gets on his pulpit and speaks truths. You get that even when K.R.I.T. is teamed up with 2 Chainz (who delivers a pretty dope verse on "Money on the Floor") to give us that diverse, Southern feel. As K.R.I.T. says, this album and the influences behind it make it "Cool 2 B Southern," a track that made it to the NBA 2K14 soundtrack.

As a Marylander who constantly gets joked with because of my sometimes Bawlmer drawl, I appreciate that K.R.I.T. appreciates his roots and wants people to further embrace them. It kind of felt like a new-school, one-man OutKast, UGK, or 8Ball and MJG (two of those groups have, in some way, featured on K.R.I.T. projects, and OutKast is constantly shouted out by K.R.I.T). But, there's something else I've grown to appreciate more from this project.

Even in the face of "conformity," K.R.I.T. still managed to put out a project that was distinctly him. Sure, you had Def Jam clamoring for a radio single after "Country Shit" and we got a few. However, even with that in mind, we still got a project that was distinctly Big K.R.I.T., from the production down to the subject matter. And yes, some of that subject matter was touched on in earlier projects. But, to hear, on a mainstream release, praise for the south and praise for originality, it was an amazing thing. Still is, if we're being real.

As an artist, I've modeled a lot of my stylings after K.R.I.T., because he was one of the artists who stayed true to himself even when the labels breathed down his neck for pop-friendly foolishness. So, while this album isn't my favorite K.R.I.T. project, it's still good. It still makes me smile to see someone say "eff the system." It still makes me nod my head in agreement at how K.R.I.T. told such a great story. It's one of those projects that makes me believe that there is still "real rap" out there. Looking back on it, it's still a great album and surpasses my original review because I'm able to go back to it over five years later and still be like "damn, this goes in." I'm able to picture myself in his shoes and say "damn, the landscape is ever-changing. Will I conform or will I continue to do things on my terms?"

Like K.R.I.T., I've continued to come live from the underground. While underground sounds aren't for everyone, everyone should still find their original voice. That's one of the many things you can take away from this project.

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