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Big K.R.I.T.— 4eva N A Day

It can’t be easy to be Big K.R.I.T. these days: dude’s basically shouldering The Future of Southern Rap by himself, but it’s not all that clear what such a title would even mean. All due respect to Rick Ross, Lex Luger and the goons from 1017 Brick Squad, but they’re pretty apparently not the heirs to Antwan Andre Patton. To make matters worse, he’s coming of age in an era where rap is less bound to geography than ever before—look at ASAP Rocky, who seems intent on appropriating the UGK legacy as the New New York rap, old schools be damned. On top of all that, the familiar label anxieties: his official debut album, Live from the Underground, is now scheduled for a June release, fully nine months behind schedule.

So it’s understandable that K.R.I.T. might be feeling the pressure, and it shows on 4eva N A Day. Songs like “Me and My Old School” and “Country Rap Tunes” are evidence of the strain— K.R.I.T.’s played with these exact motifs before, on Return of 4eva’s “My Sub” and K.R.I.T. Wuz Here’s “Country S**t.” And after those stellar tapes, cornball pep talks like “Even a magnolia fights to grow/ Under circumstances similar to yours” feel like a regression. It’s typically no slight to say a rapper is staying in his lane, but on 4eva, K.R.I.T. can’t get out of third gear.

The obvious proviso is that K.R.I.T.’s behind-the-boards execution is so impeccable that there’s pretty much a lower bound of “solid” on anything he produces these days. Both the aforementioned tracks, like the rest of the mixtape, are as painstakingly detailed as the candy-painted whips K.R.I.T.’s constantly paying homage to. He knows how to use small flourishes to develop and sustain a mood, like the pitch perfect keyboard reverb on “Down & Out” and the faint horns on “1986,” in a way that few other producers can match. And “4eva N A Day (Theme),” while it has been kicking around for a while, remains an absolutely sublime beat.

Over the course of 4eva’s 50 minute runtime, though, the 18 largely homogeneous tracks tend to bleed together—and K.R.I.T.’s not a powerful enough lyricist, not yet anyway, to really grab hold of your attention. The promise of his early tapes is still very much intact, but 4eva is the sound of K.R.I.T. holding his breath.

—Ross Green

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