Truly talented hip-hop producers are a rare breed. For every Kanye West or No ID (two of the defining producers of the modern era of hip hop music), there are dozens of cheap imitators who attempt to play off established styles without carving out their own niche . Thankfully Big K.R.I.T. falls into the former. As he proves on his third free online album 4eva in a Day, he is one of the most intriguing producers to emerge in the past few years. 4Eva in a Day doesn’t stray to far from K.R.I.T.’s established style, but, luckily for the listener, that is a decidedly good thing.
K.R.I.T.’s production is defined by soul music samples, live instrumentals, saxophone, slow paced beats, muted drums and guitars. This is southern comfort food in music form. No doubt influenced by No ID and especially College Dropout and The Blueprint era Kanye West, 4Eva begs to be played on a lazy sunday afternoon or in a car with the windows rolled down, slowly driving around town. From the intro track “Wake Up Saxaphone,” K.R.I.T. impresses with his ear for catchy beats that flow perfectly with his deep, relaxed voice, beautifully pairing the titular instrument with drums and even strings. All the way through the conclusion on “The Alarm,” the production remains similarly smooth and relaxing.
You might notice that I’m spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on K.R.I.T’s music, while largely ignoring his lyrical performance. That is because, the lyrics aren’t the star of the show here.
However, despite not being the main focus of the album, several standout tracks prove that K.R.I.T. has significant lyrical talent as well. Of particular note is the desperate pleas with God on “The Alarm,” which show a very conscious, contemplative side of the Mississippi rapper. Every line poses yet another question, with no answer but the repeated cries of “Do you believe?,” itself a question. By the end of the song’s verse and the outro screams of “Wake Up!,” you can hear the frustration and pain in K.R.I.T.’s voice.
Indeed, frustration, pain, heartbreak and drugs form the four cornerstones for the lyrics of K.R.I.T.’s album. From reliving painful memories on “Yesterday,” to the drug ballad of “Insomnia Guitar” where K.R.I.T. notes that he does drugs “Cuz I’m dealing with the pain of the game/And it’s getting harder to keep coping”, K.R.I.T. skillfully rhymes verse after verse, interlaced with his skilled production. The lyrics may not be K.R.I.T.’s first love, but he is quite talented at them. Again, not ever song showcases the same level of poetry as “The Alarm;” for example “4evaNADay Theme” and “1986” get particularly repetitive. But there are enough high points to balance out the lows.
Ultimately, the album’s strengths in the music department may also double as its biggest weakness. Most of the album blends together into one big, soul-inspired mass. No song features very distinct sounds, and K.R.I.T. never gets particularly adventurous with his sound. Indeed the final track, “The Alarm,” is the most distinctive, focusing on heavy bass, piano and operatic female vocals. It is no coincidence, then, that “The Alarm” is the strongest track on the album. To step out of the shadow of his predecessors, Big K.R.I.T must learn to tweak his trademark style to showcase different aspects of the music, rather than stay in his comfort zone. But despite this weakness, 4eva in a Day is a thoroughly enjoyable trip through soul-inspired hip hop.