Imagine Kanye West being born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi. Now imagine him being produced by Organized Noize. That imagery would create music almost identical to the Crooked Letter state’s next hip-hop heavyweight, Big K.R.IT (King remembered in time). The 24-year-old rapper slash producer defied the odds of both his personal life and hip-hop’s current landscape to be the most in-demand and respected rookie on the Cinematic Music Group/Def Jam Records roster.
Rapping since twelve-years-old and producing from age 14, KRIT personifies the term Student of the Game. Being a product of one of the smallest cities below the Mason Dixon line the young MC didn’t have the financial means required to purchase tracks and studio time. So K.R.I.T took a much more economical approach and began mastering the MTV Music Generator on his Playstation. Wanting to elevate his sonic craft he then studied local friends who were a bit more advanced in certain areas of production, or sit for hours and watch an engineer homie mix a song.
On the lyrical side, Big K.R.I.T kept an ear bent to the cadence and profound pronunciation of great orators like the Notorious B.I.G, Tupac and Pimp C. The Mississippi eagle also bathed in the classic compositions of legendary teams like OutKast and 8ball and MJG. “These guys influenced me because they rapped about what they knew about and they kept it 100,” says K.R.I.T. “Even like an Organized Noize––they stayed true to what they did and branded a sound. So they influenced me to stay true to myself and rap about what I know about.”
Instead of making the mistake many a young artist in search of an identity commit–– becoming a Xerox copy of their influences–– K.R.I.T developed his own sound. That he was raised on his parents’ soul music (Bobby Womack, Willie Hutch) explains why his production comes rich with rolling percussion, smooth yet potent baselines and keys that are sugar cane sweet. It’s homemade molasses in stereo.
With a perfect self-produced score as the backdrop, K.R.I.T uses a fluid and personable flow to captivatingly give his own Merridian, Mississippi narrative, complete with entertaining quips, steely confidence and food for thought. During a time when southern MCs succeed by hanging their hat on their drug dealing history or street lord affiliation, whether authentic or fictitious, K.R.I.T.’s true-to-self approach is a courageous one. “People wanna hear relatable music––something not so far from their every day,” he says, before adding. “A lot of times people get caught up in making a hit and it isn’t timeless because it doesn’t serve a purpose. If I have a voice and the opportunity to speak to millions of people I at least have to say something important.”
The Big K.R.I.T. formula was not only pure it was undeniable. His underground ascendance began in 2005 when an Atlanta DJ placed his song “We Gon’ Hate” on their mixtape without request. Feeling validated K.R.I.T decided to put 100% into upgrading his music dreams to reality. The next year he would drop out of Meridian Community College and move to Atlanta. In the peach state, K.R.I.T. would get a crash course in industry biz. Whether it was selling discounted beats to local artists, engineering their sessions and/or mixing their songs–––being that he was talented at more than just beat making––K.R.I.T did it to make ends meet.
After a few years of releasing underground music K.R.I.T.’s music started to catch peoples attention, allowing him to entertain the countless music execs and managers who expressed interest in him throughout his years in Atlanta’s underground. One of those interested was Jon “Shipes” Shapiro, head of Cinematic Music Group (Sean Kingston, Nipsey Hussle). The two agreed on a deal in January 2010 and set forth to turn B.K into the next hip-hop superstar. According to Shipes K.R.I.T.’s palpability makes his market potential a no-brainer: “In real life he’s just a kid from a small town whose music is phenomenal.”
K.R.I.T. then went to work on his Cinematic Music Group debut, the street album K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. The underground opus that birthed gems like the trunk rattler “Country Shit,” poignant “Children of The World” and irresistible Devin The Dude assisted “Moon & Stars” snatched the attention of many hip-hop heads; none more important than former 50 Cent manager and G-Unit Records President Sha Money XL. Upon receiving an early preview of K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Sha was “blown away.” So once the veteran exec landed a position at Def Jam as Senior VP of A&R last April he made sure his first signee was K.R.I.T. Though at the time the Mississippi gem’s John Hancock was also being sought aggressively by other labels, K.R.I.T. chose the exec with the most enthusiasm for his music. “Sha just kept saying ‘I love this! I believe in it,’” tells K.R.I.T. “He was just so adamant about it.”
Now, the rap game has received a breath of country fresh air: an artist that insists on remaining an individual and feeding his growing audience with feel-good rhythms and “rhymes with morals.” Big K.R.I.T. is in fact The Truth. Within a month of acquiring his deal he was not only critically acclaimed and courted for interviews by media giants like XXL, The Source, Rapradar.com and MTV.com, he gained fans in his own peer group–– from buzzing newbies (Wiz Khalifa, Currensy and Smoke Dza) to living legends (Ludacris, Bun B). Today whether its hip-hop lovers in the skyscraping offices of Def Jam or those in the small town of Meridian, MS, they’re all feeling the synergy being churned by the birth of rap’s next royalty. So until Mr. King Remembered In Time releases his 2011 Def Jam debut all hip-hop can do is witness a reign on the rise.