On the national level, Big K.R.I.T. has been one of those artists who came out of nowhere (Mississippi to be exact), but the release of his debut album/mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (hear what you’ve been missing) instantaneously got the entire internet on his ball sack like some itchy crabs. Yet I have to admit, I’m another one of those pesky critters, because I believe K.R.I.T. deserves all of the praise he’s receiving. Not only does he rap his ass off about everything from drugs and strippers, to religion, the prevalence of STD’s, and the lack of genuine work opportunities for the lower class, but he produces the ENTIRE album himself. And while most people talk about his down to earth mentality and his ability to balance his insightfulness with some straight ahead riding music, I think he’s probably a better beat smith than a rapper. His southern roots take center stage, yet his instrumentals sound like updated versions of Riding Dirty or The Fix rather than extensions of Crunk or Trap music. While few of his beats will make you want to stomp someone out (although “Country Shit” might), all are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and get your head rocking back and forth in that all too familiar motion. I give credit to his sample usage, which has been missing from too much of Hip-Hop recently. Obviously he’s proud of his sample game as well, because at the end of his press release announcing K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, this message was written:
“P.S. We dug deep into the crates for the music & movie samples on this one. The first person that can tell us which samples we used, will receive 1k cash & a pan of Shipe’s famous brownies.”
While I am not a contender for the prize (I could use the cash, but something tells me famous brownies from Mississippi don’t compare much to Northern California), there are few people from The Bay, who have been building their presence in the game as well, who can easily help answer that question. Moe Green and Davinci are both members of KMEL’s Bay Area Freshman 10’s inaugural class, have both been featured on ZIF in the past, and both MC’s had a recent single that shared a sample with Big K.R.I.T.. After the jump, see which tracks they are, and who I give the nod to on the production and lyrical end of things. Then in the comments, voice your opinion and let us know who you think made the better track from the common samples.
*Warning* Big K.R.I.T. released K.R.I.T. Wuz Here at a really low volume (actually my only complaint about the whole project), so you will probably have to turn his tracks up higher than the other two to properly compare them.
Lyrics: K.R.I.T. raps about growing up and being nothing in the eyes of those around him, but after success in the entertainment industry, people loving him regardless of his actions. Good emotion and delivery with solid rhymes. The only problem is that the concept behind the song has been done a countless number of times.
Beat: I may not know all of the samples from K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, but this one is clearly taken from Adele’s “Hometown Glory”. The pianos in the sample set an introspective and pensive mood, while the drums have that trademark Southern sound and swing to them. The style of the drums and the sample are really different, but they mesh successfully. Not only that, but K.R.I.T. adds and takes away elements of the rhythm throughout the track to create some great build up, that he then manages to mimic with the amount of emphasis in his vocal delivery. Winner.
Lyrics: Moe lets the world know about the specific problems plaguing his home town of Vallejo. While his specific bars aren’t as rewindable as K.R.I.T’s, and Green sounds a little less comfortable on the track, the overall message of the song is more emotionally moving in my opinion. After listening to “Hometown” you get a true sense of the desperation and despair that Vallejo is experiencing right now, and for that I give Green the edge. Winner.
Beat: Both producers seem to use the same part of the original track, and flip it in similar manners. Yet Rob-E is the only one to add his own instrumentation with subtle strings and synths. Yet the problem is that Rob’s drums fall way short of what K.R.I.T. was able to offer. This is a surprise too, because I always thought drums were Rob-E’s strong suite. In this case, they’re just a little stagnant, and they don’t hit in the speakers as they should. I like the idea of using heavy reverb to create a more emotional feel, but if the drums don’t knock, I almost always will have a problem with it.
Lyrics: This is probably the closest decision out of the two tracks. K.R.I.T. paints pictures of various problems that he sees in his neighborhood, with an extra emphasis on the crookedness of the church, and their lack of empathy for those who are truly in need. It’s vivid, it’s raw, it’s thoughtful, and it’s realistic. Flow and delivery is standard K.R.I.T., but that helps the listener focus on the words being rapped.
Beat: Despite a few hours of scouring the internet, I have not been able to find out the original sample of this track. If you know it, help a homie out! The part of the sample used helps create an atmosphere of disappointment or sad frustration, while those infectious Southern drums balance that mood out with a cool and laid back vibe that makes the song a quality one for riding to. Dope usage of quotes from “Dead Presidents” in the chorus as well.
Lyrics: Davinci spits tales about his relationship with money. Yet instead of just talking about how the dollar sign is important to him, he personifies cash as a human, thugged out, Benjamin Franklin. He sticks to the concept so well that if you aren’t paying attention, you can easily forget that he’s talking about money and not a real person, which is pretty impressive. For that reason I give him the nod in terms of lyrics. Winner.
Beat: Unlike the Hometown tracks, in this case Big D flips the sample much differently than K.R.I.T. The part of the sample that makes up the majority of “2000 & Beyond” is used as a chorus, and K.R.I.T.’s outro becomes Big D’s verses. I prefer this arrangement because a) I’m a sucker for horns, which were practically nonexistent in K.R.I.T.’s track and b) the part of the sample Big D uses for the verses just has a fuller, more epic sound to it. Not to mention that the drums are heavy and exactly what they needed to be, the sample from Michael Jackson’s “Ben” serves as a perfect intro for the specific song, and the Jay-Z bars at the end were dope as well. Winner.
Obviously all four songs are great, and there is a valid argument to prefer the exact opposite of what I chose. Therefore I strongly encourage the ZIF writers and readers alike to give their opinion of who’s tracks were better in the comments section. Still, regardless of who was more ill in these specific instances, all three artists are dope, their free projects are more than worth the download, and I will be keeping my ear open for their future music.