Plenty of people are prepared to make excuses for this album. KRIT has ironically set himself up for perceived failure with his three previous and quite stellar mixtapes. Being too good has brought him to the major label debut crossroads where its almost impossible for him to top what he’s already done, right? Live From The Underground would be the feather in plenty of other emcees caps. It’s a good album, but is it good enough for K.R.I.T.?
There aren’t any bad songs on Live from the Underground, nothing here to make your face crumple or your ass itch. K.R.I.T. hasn’t taken the path most traveled and gone to some pop bullshit concoction to appease everyone but the Hip-Hop fans who made it possible for him to get signed in the first place. What he has done is built on the sound that has brought him this far, adding some depth to his thematic repertoire and production arsenal.
The tracks are swathed in blaxploitation strings, oscillating organs, stabbing horn sections and 70’s soul vocals. There is a fullness in his foundations not regularly present in his previous work. The vintage brass and gospel hums on “Cool 2 Be Southern” are large and in charge, cutting through a simple bassline and sparse snare with great energy. “ I Got This” is the polar opposite, updated and club inclined with a featured snare, some stair step bass and west coast synth. The R&B leaning “Porchlight” is smooth like butter, hosting Anthony Hamilton’s love and passion properly. “My Sub Part 2 (The Jackin’)” will probably make a Bay area fan shake them dreads right out of his head.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though. “Hydroplaning” and “If I Fall” are both plain and a bit boring. The guitar in “Don’t Let Me Down” is as staid as the hook. The skit where K.R.I.T. gets lost in the “mainstream” is a little.. no very.. corny. The point is still well received.
The themes are familiar. K.R.I.T. is still unapologetically southern. He still loves every bit of his country lineage. There are still bad bitches, clean candy painted rides and tons of smoke. His thoughts can move from the pulpit to the pole and back in a matter of moments, crafting a layered character worth listening to beyond the hook. And that’s great because many of the hooks on Live From The Underground are repetitive enough to be grating. Don’t act like you don’t know. The first 30 seconds of “Yeah Dats Me” made you frown didn’t it? K.R.I.T. saves it with ego laden double time though.
K.R.I.T goes spoken word on the touching “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” sings his heart out on the title track and dives into deep narration on the haunting “Praying Man,” a collaborative effort with the incomparable B.B. King that has Ceelo Green’s DNA smeared all over it. Best song on the album easily.
Now back to our question, is it good enough for K.R.I.T.? Yes. Even considering the few lack luster hooks and couple of snoozy tracks, this album manages to save itself with a heaping helping of southern will and K.R.I.T’s wonderfully Meridian drawl. K.R.I.T has a great flair for the dramatic while maintaining an everyman feel that plenty of dudes can relate to. The misogyny can get a bit overwhelming, but his mom closes the album. There is a lovely dichotomy that weaves its way through the entirety of Live From The Underground and cements Big K.R.I.T as one of the leaders of the new new school.
3.75 Out of 5