Album Review: Big K.R.I.T. - Cadillactica
When you take a moment to ponder the infinitude of the universe, it’s truly an incredible concept. The observable universe, also known as the region visible from Earth, is a sphere with a radius of about 46 billion light years. Somewhere out there, past Pluto and beyond the reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy, exists Cadillactica. You see, Cadillactica is a place unlike any other. A place you couldn’t imagine as it’s constructed by the conscious and subconscious thoughts of Big K.R.I.T. and shaped by the sounds, cars and culture of the South in the same sense that the Earth’s features were defined by the elements.
In short, Cadillactica is the trillest place in the universe and it serves a dual purpose as the title of K.R.I.T.’s second studio album. It may very well be his most important work to date. Steadily building his reputation as a well-respected MC and creative artist through his mixtapes and Live from the Underground, his first studio album, Cadillactica will be the defining moment of his young career as Big K.R.I.T. takes us on a sonic journey that is in many ways reminiscent of Outkast’s Aquemeni. However, to maintain a comparison of that magnitude, K.R.I.T. would have to create something truly special.
And create he did. While the universe that we know today was formed by the Big Bang, Cadillactica was also created by the big bang, except this kind explodes through your speakers, the 808. As he explains in My Sub, Pt. 3, “this is how it all started way back/ first the boomin’ voice then the bass crack, 808/ and that’s when we first started fire/ cause the speakers wasn’t grounded and he fried all the wires.” The clever metaphors that intertwine music and culture with creation and evolution are abundant throughout Cadillactica, which is crucial to perpetuating the concept of this album. Just as important as his lyrics is the use of the 808 and the instances where it disappears.
Throughout Cadillactica, K.R.I.T. utilizes a changing pattern of a booming bass and periods of silence, which coincide with slower, more simplified beats vs. faster and busier beats. At times it feels like he’s created a sound that perpetuates a feeling of isolation. That the external distractions subside and you become immersed in this journey with Big K.R.I.T. as he explains what is laid out before you and him. This is particularly noticeable in Do You Love Me, featuring Mara Hruby, as the almost silent gaps between the claps in the 808s and the stripped down effects give this feel of separation, like you’re riding with K.R.I.T. in an intergalactic old school Caddy, dipping through the universe.
From Kreation, where he and his woman, the metaphorical Adam and Eve, watch the birth of Cadillactica, to Lost Generation, where they leave the people to find their own way, there’s this feeling of joining the creator in this period of reflection. These patterns, particularly the slower ones are infused with jazz, blues and R&B influences, which often times gives this Outkast-esque feel to it.
Krizzle touches on many themes that define humanity. One track that stands out in metaphorical creativity is Soul Food, where he likens good memories and morals to the soul food in his past. Unfortunately, that food doesn’t seem to be served anymore.
“If it ain’t made with love then it ain’t fit to serve, I heard/ Some get bruised and battered/ Thrown away half eaten as if their seeds never ever mattered/ It ain’t ripe, it ain’t right/ That’s why most people don’t make love no more/ They just fuck and they fight/ What happened to the stay-togethers?/ Yeah, I’m with you. And that means forever/ Grandparents had that kind of bond/ But now we on some other shit.”
Accompanied by Raphael Saadiq, who lends his talents both on the hook as well as a producer on the track, the two combine for one of Cadillactica’s stand out moments. Soul Food is food for thought.
While Cadillactica may tackle heavier themes like man’s search for meaning and coping with life’s many struggles, it does offer lighter moments that maintain the boom from the 808s while still retaining K.R.I.T.’s lyrical style. On King Of The South, K.R.I.T. gets rightfully braggadocios, as his witty and fast paced flow fire shots at all the nonbelievers. While the South often gets slept on, Krizzle claims King in a track that cannot be ignored. He even takes some shots at Def Jam in the process.
“Light at the end of the tunnel/ When you’re flexin’ it’s hard to be humble/ Talkin’ fourth down, can’t throw the ball to Def Jam/ Cause they might fumble/ Kick that South flow you can’t get/ Tried to fuck the world, but my dick won’t fit.”
King Of The South is the perfect compliment to Mount Olympus, which surfaced right after Kendrick’s Control verse and was arguably the best response from any rapper. Despite the passion and time K.R.I.T. has put into his craft, he feels overlooked and underrated, but that won’t last for long as those two tracks cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, Mount Olympus is only available in the deluxe edition, which is a surprising move as both that track and Lac Lac with A$AP Ferg may have helped to strengthen an already stout track list.
In many respects, Cadillactica feels like one of K.R.I.T.’s mixtapes; light on sampling and heavy on original production. The result is something that feels completely organic; a project that feels like it is sonically all his own. The album’s external musical influences, particularly the R&B, may split listeners who are new to his sound as he handles a fair amount of the singing himself, but his vocals never feel forced. K.R.I.T.’s sound always feels natural.
While a concept album is not uncharted territory in hip-hop nor are these thoughtful themes and observations, it’s K.R.I.T.’s convictions that make it feel so real and believable. K.R.I.T. is a true artist who has taken time to nurture his craft. Cadillactica is the right blend of thought provoking hip-hop and an experimented blend of Jazz, Blues and R&B. There’s enough of K.R.I.T. to go around, but he balances it well with a set of features from E-40, Wiz Khalifa, Lupe Fiasco, Bun B, Big Sant, Devin the Dude and others that work as the right supporting cast to help form a sound so unique. Cadillactica is worth the trip as this perspective into a far off land hits home to us residing on Mother Earth.
Review by Carmine Colangelo