We recently caught up with Big K.R.I.T. at the Def Jam offices in NYC to explore the world of what many are deeming the “next big thing” in the South. Surrounded by heavy bass lines, rapid drum rolls and shouting vocals, you would think the heavy influence would bare down. Simply not the case. His approach – his own real life. Soulful soundscapes combined with thought-out lyrics, he shares with us the backdrop on his life and how it all came about in his latest mixtape 4evaNaDay.
For the people who don’t know, can you break down what K.R.I.T. stands for?
K.R.I.T. stands for “King Remembered in Time,” it’s just a humble way of saying that I’m going to be on top of my life, on top of my music and it’s a saying that motivates me to live up to each and every day.
So what’s in store for Big K.R.I.T. in 2012?
Well we just dropped 4evaNaDay March 5, and we’ve just started hitting the road to perform it. So just the tour, and after that we’re thinking about dropping Live from the Underground in June. So it’s all working its way piece by piece for this album.
Before we get into the album, tell us about your new mixtape. What were some of the concepts and ideas you had in mind prior to creating this mixtape?
My album was originally supposed to come out September 27 last year and now we’ve changed it to June. So in between then, I wanted to create a body of music. Hence, I didn’t want it to just be a gang of songs and that’s it, you know? I wanted it to be a conceptual mixtape of A day in the life of Big K.R.I.T. because there’s not a lot of footage of me out there, so I wanted people to get to know me.
A very personal project it seems.
I decided to put my whole life on wax for this mixtape and the story unfolds as you listen to each track. You’ll even notice the artwork ties in with this vision. There’s different standpoints that depict what one goes through in a day and the choices and decisions you make whether good or bad. The titles are traditionally in the hook, but these titles reflect more of the emotions and actions. Cohesively, from the songs, artwork, track listing, titles, it's all relative.
You said your put your “whole life on wax this for this mixtape,” are there certain songs we should look out for?
There were a couple, “Yesterday,” “Me and My Old School,” “1986” since that was my birth year, “Handwriting” and last but not least, “Down & Out.” These songs came all came from a special place and I’m hoping there are people that can relate to it so it helps them.
Your 2010 offering K.R.I.T. Wuz Here garnered great response, and it seems that was really your breakout year. Prior to this project you had five mixtapes that didn’t get as much recognition. How did this all finally come together for you?
Motivation. It was years and years of going with the music without having an amazing label behind me. Just taking the chance of dropping the project itself that year in order to see the peoples reaction, and then eventually signing with Def Jam that year was definitely a turning point. Also working with Jonny Shipes of Cinematic Music Group was a turning point. Shipes reached out to me in the beginning of 2010 and offered to work with me for free for the first 6 months with no paper work and then we started getting videos with creative control and such. So pieces of everything came into fruition which eventually led to Def Jam signing me.
What were your first experiences getting into the creative side of music?
My very first experience with music was when I was younger and played a cello. I played that for a number of years, and then eventually played a tuba all throughout junior high up until the point I graduated high school. So that gave me a basis of what music really was and what it was supposed to sound like. As far as rapping – it was on the corner, just being in the mix and freestyling, that was in '99. The first time I made beats was with my PlayStation using MTV Music Generator (laughs).
What inspires you when you create music?
Just seeing the reaction of the people when they come up to me telling me a song inspires or helps them. Performing and seeing the reactions, this inspires me. Growing up I always wanted to have a voice to say something important so making quality and timeless music is also very important to me. I’m just grateful I’m able to do what I love and make a living out of it.
You had a notable appearance on The Roots' undun album recently, how did that all transpire and will you be working with them more in the future?
They hit me up! (laughs) I did a verse for them and they reached out to me and told me they were feeling it and wanted to use it for the album. It was an honor because the album didn’t have many features at all and I was one of the few. I also had the opportunity to perform with them and it was crazy.. it’s The Roots you know? I would love to work with them again, and I can’t speak too much about it, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Mississippi has its solid foundation in blues and jazz music, but not so much on the hip-hop genre. How were you able to get tapped into the hip-hop scene and get your music heard?
Mississippi has a strong presence in blues and jazz, however having an underground hip-hop network was very difficult as you can imagine, so I eventually went to some bigger cities nearby like Birmingham and Atlanta to promote my music at the time. I will say though, with any artist trying to come up, you have to go outside your comfort zone in order to get your music heard. I mean it’s dope to represent where you’re from but you still need to go somewhere else and represent too.
Let's talk about your new album due out this summer, called Live from the Underground. Can you tell us the idea behind this?
I’m an underground at heart, just the grit and soul of it all. The project is almost like a recollection of what I went through to in order to be in the position I’m in today. I’m staying true to myself on this project and I produced a lot of my own material on it so you can expect it to have a gritty and underground feel to it, yet they’ll be a soulfulness to it all, a country-ness to it all. No date for this project yet but we’re looking in June.
Any final words?
I appreciate all the love and support you all have given me with all my projects. Feel free to get at me on Twitter and visit my website at BigKrit.com, be on the lookout for me on the J. Cole tour as well!
Be sure to check out Big K.R.I.T.'s 4Eva N A Day mixtape available for download here.