Big K.R.I.T., who hardly ever abandons his style, shows the virtues of persistence and consistency. He’s been releasing mixtapes since 2005 — some of these, like 2011’s Return of 4 Eva, are potent — carrying the torch for an older tradition of southern rap that draws its vitality from smoldering funk. But on his latest tape, See Me On Top Vol. 4, the rapper also displays a willingness to stray from the template.
On “Pay Attention,” the single released in advance of his upcoming Nov. album Cadillactica, K.R.I.T. shows that he has also been looking in new directions. There’s a snippet of “Pay Attention” included on See Me On Top Vol. 4, and it sounds post-Drake, suggesting that K.R.I.T. has been listening to rap radio. (Or at least that Rico Love, who appears on the hook, knows what sounds fresh and K.R.I.T. is willing to listen.) Elsewhere, K.R.I.T. freestyles over the Drake and Lil Wayne track “Believe Me” and remixes the English indie-rock band Alt-J.
Of course, K.R.I.T. also makes sure to play to his base. This is clear in song titles like “Big Pimpin’,” which brings to mind Jay-Z‘s 2000 hit with southern rap pioneers UGK, and “Ridin’ Dirty,” which shares a name with a 2005 hit from the Houston rapper Chamillionaire. In “Something Right,” K.R.I.T. declares “this shit here ain’t overnight/ I must be doing something right.” He’s a veteran who knows that one of the keys to longevity is maintaining a core audience.
It’ll be interesting to see which side of K.R.I.T. wins out on Cadillactica. If you can’t wait until November, catch the rapper on tour. He hits the road with Two-9 starting in early October, playing 31 dates in six weeks.