Big K.R.I.T. :: Cadillactica
Author: Emanuel Wallace
It's hard to believe that it's been over two years since Big K.R.I.T.'s major label debut album "Live From The Underground"
was released, but it has been. The album received generally positive reviews but with the body of work that K.R.I.T. -- the album came off as a disappointment to some
long-time K.R.I.T. fans and ultimately K.R.I.T. himself. On last year's "King Remembered In Time"
project, K.R.I.T. took the brunt of the blame and even goes as far as to say that he failed his fans on "R.E.M.." In an interview with RESPECT magazine,
he mentions not being fully ready to deal with the transition from the freedom of mixtapes to the more structured approach that comes with making retail albums.
Sample clearance issues were a big part of the delay with "Live From The Underground" but this time around, "Cadillactica" reportedly only contains three samples. Determined to not repeat the same mistakes twice, K.R.I.T. has taken his time with the rollout of "Cadillactica." He's taken his show on the road on the heels of a strong lead single in "Pay Attention" which features Rico Wade and is produced by Jim Jonsin. In the past, K.R.I.T. says that his do-it-all approach to making music was out of necessity because he couldn't afford to buy beats or to have someone else come in and sing hooks. Now he's more willing to step outside of his comfort zone and collaborate with other producers like Raphael Saddiq, DJ Dahl and Terrace Martin. Featured artists on "Cadillactica" include the aforementioned Saddiq and Rico Love, along with E-40, Wiz Khalifa, Kenneth Wallum III, Mara Hruby, Bun B, Devin the Dude, Big Sant, ASAP Ferg, Jamie N Commons and Lupe Fiasco.
On the outside, "Cadillactica" is a loose concept album. The planet Cadillactica is a place that represents his conscious mind. That includes all of his struggles, fears, passions, pain and so forth. So logically, the planet needs to be created. That's where the opening track "Kreation" comes into play. A female voice softly suggests, "Let's create." "Nah, not yet," K.R.I.T. responds. She insists that they do it now and he eventually gives in, under the condition that they take their time and be perfect -- and perhaps that's the narrative at work for this entire album as K.R.I.T. creates both his planet and life itself in the "perfect" opening track. Let's face it, sometimes being on this planet can be a drag anyway. Being able to escape it all and enjoy the freedom that comes with being lost in your own world. You might find "Life." It represents that small beacon of hope or an answer you may have been searching for. If you thought the Big Bang had something to do with a dude named Sheldon Cooper, K.R.I.T. explains how it really went down on the third installment of "My Sub," as he raps:
"This is how it all started, way back
First the booming voice, then the bass cracked
And that's how we first started fire
Because the speakers wasn't grounded and it fried all the wires
But he thought about the thump from the jump
Took it out the bat cave and he threw it in the trunk
And that's evolution for you peeps
Like this is how I'm supposed to get freaks
808, hoes can't twerk to the hi-hat not never
Crankin' up the knob til he broke off the lever
Southern on these hoes, give a fuck about the treble
He could barely feel his face
But he hit em with the bass"
The intergalactic DJ Dahl-produced rapid fire title track features K.R.I.T. at his wheel-whipping best. Self-assured and calm in the face of any would-be crisis. The skit at the end of the track of a fictitious (hopefully) restaurant called More Grease Than Beef provides the perfect segue into the Raphael Saadiq-produced "Soul Food" which questions what happened to the better times in society. It really makes one yearn for the days of yesteryear. K.R.I.T. already has a few strip club anthems under his belt already, but "Pay Attention" may be his best to date. With Rico Love crooning the hook, it frees up K.R.I.T. to solely focus on the baddest chick in the club, as he raps:
"Smoke and mirrors, dollar bills
Flexing for no reason, get it how you live
Crackin' seals, bottle poppin on another level
Red light special, she ain't selfish, working with no discretion
Twisting and turning, my mind blown and her mind gone
She slow rolling, ain't no hoe in her time zone
Face right, stage lights turn her out
Act like she's the only one in here
that can twerk for real and that's without a doubt
Like damn, DJ run that back
I think that was her song and she don't know how to act
Like damn, all night I been with it
All night she been gettin it, all night she been with me"
"King of the South" and "Mind Control" follow and the former is K.R.I.T. staking his claim for the much-coveted title, running down his resume in the process and likening rap's current landscape to a colosseum of fighters embattled in a bitter bloodsport and threatening to decapitate any competition with a heap of "fuck ems" for their trouble. The latter track is a much more mellow and laid back pimped out tune featuring none other than E-40 Fonzarelli and Wiz Khalifa. It's all about the pursuit of a freak or two who can be shaped and molded into the whatever it is that she needs to be and more. Heavy bass, synths and horns give it strong replay value. Kenneth Whalum III's wailing saxophone accompanies K.R.I.T. on the spoken word interlude, "Standby" and Mara Hruby provides her soulful voice to "Do You Love Me," an ode to the other lady in K.R.I.T.'s life...his custom car. "Third Eye" has Krizzle falling in love just a bit too soon in a more conventional way, as he raps:
"I hate to rap and live life all alone
And I know this world is filled with so many clones
But you're original in your aura
It's sort of...radiant and I can't ignore it
So I don't wanna buy you no drink
Besides, I think you'd rather smoke your dank
And that's cool
I know you came with your friends, so you choose
If you wanna share your vibe, it's on you
I'd be a lie if I didn't say just the other day
I dreamed of picket fences and chillin playing instruments
A lot of incense, in one instance
I saw your face
And you were full of Grace
At least that's what we named her
My angel had an angel and I was so thankful
I know I barely know you, but I think you're so amazing
More than enough, that's my inspiration"
Southern juggernauts Bun B, Devin the Dude and Big Sant show up for some mellowed down 808-driven jazzy fun on "Mo Better Cool," while "Angels" finds K.R.I.T. questioning if the angels in the sky are getting high and if God is crying -- as it would explain the figurative cloudy and rainy days in all of our lives. The standard version of the album winds down with "Saturday = Celebration" and "The Lost Generation." The former features UK crooner Jamie N Commons, while the album closer brings the Cadillactica theme around full circle and features a resurgent Lupe Fiasco,as K.R.I.T. raps:
"This ain't meant to be preached on
This here meant to be teached on
I know that you ain't got much time
I promise this rhyme won't take long
You need it in your life
like you need a better job, like you need another hobby
Instead of waiting in the lobby
with the soft and the hard, until the police holler "Copy"
I know how it get when you ain't got shit to flush
And them balloons you bought gettin' busted
Cause everybody want more than what they say, so you don't know who to trust
What good is flashing or living the fastest if you in a casket
I couldn't imagine my mama hanging over me
Crying, because my soul was too young to let go of me
I'm sayin what I gotta
Cause the club songs ain't saving my pockets"
The deluxe version of "Cadillactica" contains a tweaked and perhaps sample-free version of Mt. Olympus and the ASAP Ferg featuring "Lac Lac" which were both released months ago. "Cadillactica" was more than just a sophomore album for Big K.R.I.T. -- it was about redemption and proving to himself and critics that he could put together a complete and stellar album on his own terms. Many worry that the Cadillactica theme might go over the heads of some and alienate fans but rest assured, at the core of it all, there's still the 808 bang, jazzy, soulful music and the same Big K.R.I.T. that so many have come to know, respect and love -- on second thought, he's better. Perhaps we could all stand to take a trip to our own Cadillactica.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: November 12, 2014