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Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva N A Day

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Artist: Big K.R.I.T.

Album: 4eva N A Day

Label: self-released

Review date: Apr. 2, 2012

Justin Scott, better known as Big K.R.I.T., would have been a hell of a high school football coach. I don’t mean that as a compliment: The Mississippi rapper’s altruistic, can-do attitude and “work hard, accomplish all you can” mentality might push impressionable 16 year-old boys to the second round of the state playoffs, but chutzpah does not a great Southern rapper make. A good Southern rapper has attitude. He’s a weirdo. He’s menacing. Scott is none of those things.

Scott’s problem, and the problem that dogs 4eva N A Day like a pimpled cornerback tracking a pubescent slot receiver, is that Scott seems trapped in a web of his own influences. The hypothetical appeal of Scott hinges on his ability to cobble together an apt pastiche of golden-age Country Rap, weaving the lush, soulful thump of guys like UGK, 8Ball & MJG and early Outkast with a J Dilla-esque ear for subtle layering. He’s a beyond able producer, and his fully realized wrappings make his shortcomings as a rapper even more glaring.

It’s not that Scott has nothing to say. Instead, he suffers a fate much worse — he’s boring. He tends to rap about the same stuff over and over again: his car; being a good person; being super old school. Whenever he tries to stretch himself and get mean, as he does for about two sort-of misogynistic lines on the mixtape’s title track, it sounds forced. It’s like watching Marty McFly hit on his mom in Back to the Future. Scott seems mired in tradition, to the point where it seems like he picks whatever he’s rapping about just because that’s what the rappers before him did, exhibiting the same hyper-referentiality that bogs down academic papers and A$AP Rocky mixtapes. But while Rocky’s got a drum-tight flow and enough catchphrases to fuel a political campaign, Scott seems wayward, his natural drawl slowing his words down to the point where it seems less like he’s rapping and more like he’s rambling to a beat. With guys like Pimp C, this works, because Pimp was dripping with personality. When Scott speaks, you check your phone.

It is extremely difficult these days to turn a motivational speech into a good rap hook. The nascent days of hip hop cornered that market long ago. Yet, Scott seems intent on airing out every positive sentiment he can muster, over and over again, and it’s annoying to the point of distraction. Which is a shame, because what’s going on underneath his raps is often borderline astounding.

Recently, Scott produced “Believe,” the newest single from David Banner, perhaps the most prominent rapper to make it out of Mississippi. On paper, it’s a smart pairing: Mississippi’s favorite hip-hop son, getting back to his roots by working with a guy who practically worships them. But while Banner uses Southern Rap to stimulate thought by nestling legitimate questions next to reductive club bangers, Scott comes off as a guy who is simply following the lead.

By Drew Millard

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