On Big K.R.I.T.’s last album, 2012’s Live From the Underground, the Mississippi native showcased a lot of the promise that had made him one of the most talked-about emcees in the indie rap world; but the album never seemed to quite jell. It did, however, reveal that K.R.I.T. had a vision for what kind of artist he wanted to be — somewhere between the grit of David Banner and the wit of OutKast — even if he hadn’t quite yet figured out how to fully realize that vision.
But on Cadillactica, K.R.I.T.’s vision seems to be fully formed, and it’s a remarkable album because of this.
K.R.I.T. breaks free of his influences and truly comes into his own on Cadillactica, offering musings on childhood, spirituality, the hood and relationships — with a lush and organic-sounding production that would make any fan of ’90s Organized Noize proud. “Mo Better Cool” features guest spots from Wiz Khalifa and Bun B; though neither upstages K.R.I.T.’s verses. The banger “King of the South” is an anthem of the highest order — with just the right amount of chest-thumping and speaker-throttling to be a hit. “Do You Love Me” is one of K.R.I.T.’s most astute dedications to relationships yet; and “Saturdays = Celebration” offers some thoughtful lyrics about sinners and saints. The title track is a percolating masterpiece of synths and bass, one of the most musically-visionary moments on an album that’s full of them. And an undeniable high-water mark for K.R.I.T. is the grooving “Soul Food,” which features a stellar assist from soul star Raphael Saadiq.
In an era where albums are declared “classics” 10 minutes after they drop, it can be hard to resist the urge to overpraise — or hyper-criticize. Will K.R.I.T.’s Cadillactica be elevated to the canon of great hip-hop records — or even great Southern hip-hop records? Only time will tell. But what we do know now is that this rapper has committed himself to creating art that floats above expectation, and thus far, he’s mostly succeeded at that. And for now, that’s all that matters.