Big K.R.I.T is a southern hip-hop artist from Meridian, Mississippi. He started gaining fame in 2010 when he released K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, his first critically acclaimed mixtape. Around this time, he began to gain notoriety, including being featured on the song Glass House from Wiz Khalifa’s popular mixtape, Kush & Orange Juice. Glass House was the first song that I heard him on. I remember hearing it and thinking Pimp C had been reincarnated because he had a similar southern twang to his voice. I loved his verse, which didn’t surprise me because of how much Pimp C influenced my interest of rap. Once I found out it was Big K.R.I.T., my journey into his music began and since, I’ve become a solidified fan. I have seen him numerous time: once at my alma mater, Georgia State, another time at One Music Fest (which is held annually in Atlanta), and then once at the old Masquerade location. K.R.I.T. has always put on a pretty good show, so I was excited to see him again.
As stated, I had seen K.R.I.T. three previous times, all at separate locations. This was the second time I would be seeing him as the headliner of the show. The first time I saw him headlining, he performed at The Masquerade, which was a rather small venue. This time he was performing at the Tabernacle, which holds about twice as many people as the Masquerade. As stated before, this is my favorite venue in Atlanta. It’s intimate, yet big enough to allow artists who have a considerable following to perform there. I felt this was a great venue for K.R.I.T. and honestly, I was surprised he hadn’t headlined a show here before. Especially since this tour he managed to completely sell out two nights in a row.
Southern rap is a genre that can range in terms of style. First, you have trap music, which is what T.I., Gucci Mane, and Young Jeezy helped make famous. This usually deals with various street topics rapped over heavy bass beats. Next, you have the more lyrical southern rap, which Outkast, Childish Gambino, Killer Mike, and Goodie Mob are representative of. In this type of music, the sounds will range in instrumentation and topics that are typically more conscious than trap music. However, one thing you can almost always expect to hear in all southern music is deep bass and upbeat rhythms.
At the K.R.I.T. show, there were tons of hip-hop fans that ranged in age, but not so much in ethnicity. Although there were a several types of people in attendance, but most of the attendants were black, southern hip-hop fans. This wasn’t a surprise because K.R.I.T. is still considered an underground hip-hop artist to many, and this was his type of crowd. Throughout the show, the crowd vibed with his performance. The crowd had a good amount of energy but didn’t physically exude it as much as some other artists’ crowds I’d been a part of. Did this take anything away from the show? Not at all. This was just a different type of crowd. Most of the crowd knew all the words to all the songs; they just showed their energy and supported differently.
Every time in the past when I’d seen Big K.R.I.T., he never had an outlandish stage. For the purposes of his performance style, I never saw this as a damper to how much I would enjoy his show. This show wasn’t much different. This time he had a fairly simple and clean stage setup, which consisted of three large screens that were placed adjacent to each other. Throughout the show, the screens would portray different videos and images that corresponded with the current song that he was performing. I also noticed that he had multiple streams of light that flashed throughout his show as well which added to the visual effects of the stage. Of course, there was also his DJ’s setup, which was to the left of the stage. From my point of view, this was unseen, but I could tell that it was there by K.R.I.T.’s interaction with his DJ during the show. All in all, I felt that this worked for K.R.I.T. In my opinion, he’s not the type of artist that does or needs over the top things to provide a good show.
K.R.I.T.’s new album 4eva is a Mighty Long Time was his first album released since his departure from Def Jam and became an independent artist. The album was a two-part project portraying his two personas: the first representing his stage name, Big K.R.I.T., and the second representing his government name, Justin Scott. If you listen to the album, you can sonically tell the difference how each album represents a different portrait of the same man. Big K.R.I.T.’s side is full of 808s and confident lyrics, while the Justin Scott side provided the listener with his vulnerable and more human side.
K.R.I.T.’s song choice for the concert almost mirrored the album in most cases. Each song he performed was from his most recent album. This can be expected when the artist has a certain connection to the specific album.
For instance, the rapper J. Cole had a similar mantra on his last tour. Throughout his “4 Your Eyez Only” tour, he performed every song from his most recent album. This was a surprise to most. When he explained it, he explained that if an artist is truly in love with what they created, then why wouldn’t they perform every song from that project? This can be intimidating for the artist because certain songs might be great, but don’t perform as well in concert. K.R.I.T. didn’t specifically say this about his tour, but you can tell that he wanted to portray the artistry of the project to the audience.
My only concern with this is that K.R.I.T. didn’t perform any of his older songs. Being that I was a big fan of his music, I was hoping that he would perform some of his older songs that I was even more familiar with. There was a brief period where his DJ played a mix of his old songs, but he never physically performed any of those songs. On top of that, I felt that he could’ve had a higher energy encore. He ended his performance with the song “Keep the Devil off me.” Although this song isn’t a slow song by any means, I would’ve preferred to hear either an old track, or one of the high energy tracks from the “Big K.R.I.T.” portion of the album. Overall, I think this portion of his show could’ve been better, but I can understand the artistic reasons behind why he focused solely on this album.
Now to the performance. K.R.I.T. came on around 9:51 after his main opener Cyhi The Prynce, who put on quite a show. He successfully did his job as an opener by providing the crowd with a great opening performance. His high energy session helped set the stage for K.R.I.T. to follow. One thing I really liked about the whole night was how quickly the show moved along. I want to say that K.R.I.T. came on within 10 minutes from the time Cyhi finished performing. This usually isn’t the case at most concerts and there is a lot more waiting.
Once K.R.I.T.’s performance started, he came out to the song Big K.R.I.T., which serves as the intro from his most recent album. He was dressed in an all-black outfit with a pair of stylish gold-rimmed shades on, which seem to be his new signature look. This song was a fairly low-tempo song. At this point K.R.I.T. would be walking around the stage while exhibiting the lyricism from this track…but this wouldn’t last long.
He immediately went into more up-tempo songs by breaking out Big Bank, and My Sub IV. Both of these are some of the most energetic and most popular songs from his recent album. At this point K.R.I.T.’s energy went from 0 to 100. He was jumping around the stage while performing, while still managing to keep his cool demeanor which he’s known for. He then transitioned into another popular song 1999. This song slowed the tempo down, but the excitement might’ve been nearly at its highest at this point. Why you ask? Well this was the one time where K.R.I.T. brought out somewhat of a hometown hero, Lloyd.
Lloyd, the R&B artist, got his start after he moved to Decatur, Georgia from his birthplace in New Orleans, Louisiana. He began to gain notoriety with his first big single, Southside, in 2004. Ever since then he has been a popular star in the R&B community with numerous hits.
Once Lloyd came on stage, you could sense the enthusiasm in the crowd. Not only was this a popular song, but we also got an unexpected surprise. From this point on, K.R.I.T.’s song choice stayed from mid to low tempo until he took his first break from the stage. Halfway through the show, he exited the stage to change his outfit. During the gap in performance, there was a video of the history of Big K.R.I.T. that mostly showed footage from his past performances, coupled with his DJ playing a mix of K.R.I.T.’s most well-known songs. While cool, I was hoping K.R.I.T. would come out to perform some of these older songs, but to no avail. I checked setlists from previous recent shows he’d performed, and at this point I was able to verify that what I found was accurate. So, when he returned to the stage, I was pretty sure that he would continue the plan to solely perform tracks from his new album.
One of the next songs he did was Mixed Messages. This was a song he made to discuss his personal battle as a regular guy versus his nature as a rapper. He talks about things from enjoying strips clubs, but not wanting his sister to dance in one, to wanting to be safe but not trusting the police. This was a powerful song, which was demonstrated by the crowd collectively throwing a fist up along with K.R.I.T. at the conclusion of the song. This was one of my favorite moments of the show because you could sense the passion from K.R.I.T. as he rapped each and every word in the song. As the show came to an end, K.R.I.T. performed one of my favorite songs from the album, “Bury Me in Gold.” Not only does this song contain great lyrics, but it also has a good message, so I felt this was great song to end to.
As he walked off the stage, what seemed like a fairly abrupt end to his show, ended up being the encore to his show. Just like his entrance to the stage after his opener, K.R.I.T. didn’t waste any time coming back on to the stage for his encore. He performed Keep the Devil Off Me, which was a song on the second part of his “two-disc” album. I felt like this song was good, but I was hoping that we’d get a surprise and he would perform an older, more upbeat song like Mt. Olympus for the encore. That took nothing from the performance of this song though. This song has an old-school church vibe to it, and towards the end of the song, K.R.I.T. was met on the stage by a person carrying a robe. They then placed it around K.R.I.T.’s shoulders in a similar manner to James Brown’s shows in the past. This made me chuckle, but I loved the ode to the Godfather of Soul
After this song, he ended the show by walking around to Justin Scott, an instrumental track that was also off the second portion of his album. During this song he was going from each side of the stage, and even into the crowd, shaking hands and giving hugs to fans. Altogether K.R.I.T. had a hell of a performance, as I said before, I felt that the song choice could’ve been better. Even with that disclaimer, I can’t take anything from his overall performance. I definitely left the show satisfied.