INTERVIEW: Big K.R.I.T. on Mississippi, his influences, and stage diving
by Marcus K. Dowling
“I just want people who have never heard of Meridian, Mississippi to get to know a little bit about myself and where I’m from.
Kicking back with 2011 XXL Freshman 11 class member Big K.R.I.T. at Red Bull EmSee absolutely involved a discussion of classic Southern hip hop. “Man, it’s all about Outkast’s ‘Liberation.’ That was the one that did it for me. The production, the lyricism, the storytelling, ‘Liberation.’ That was the one that did it for me.” Being a griot of long, slow Southern days lived as meaningfully as possible has long since been an important contribution to the varied and proud history of hip hop. By that standard, hearing 25-year old Meridian, Mississippi native Big K.R.I.T. mention the soulful heaven-sent yarn from Outkast’s 1996 sophomore album Aquemini makes sense. From Dre and Big Boi to Eightball and MJG, and so many beloved performers, the concept of young being a “big king remembered in time” as Big K.R.I.T.’s pseudonym cleverly states has been established, and is for him an absolute possibility.
Big K.R.I.T.’s debut album, Return of 4Eva is a masterpiece of the latest school of hip hop. Eschewing witty punchlines, pop star guest appearances and borderline absurd gimmicks, the 2011 XXL Magazine freshman emcee tells stories. “That’s the key to my lyricism. I don’t talk about anything that I haven’t already experienced. I’m also really blessed to be surrounded by people I’ve known since I was 13 or so. My rhymes are based in memories I’m reminded of every day.” He continues, “I am an artist and producer which is important, too. I know exactly what I’m trying to get out, so it makes the production process much easier for me, too. I’m still learning and growing, but having everything so fresh and clear in my mind is important.”
The rapper’s success has seemingly occurred ina fast-paced vacuum drawing comparisons to his Mississippi forebear David Banner. Such clear similarities incite no angst from the emcee. “I just want people who have never heard of Meridian, Mississippi to get to know a little bit about myself and where I’m from. There’s definitely a story here. David Banner? Wow. He’s been such an inspiration for me. From learning about production to handling labels, and being a complete artist, having someone like him around who is so established and successful has been extremely helpful.”
In the live realm, tracks like “Country Shit” showcase the fun-loving aspects of K.R.I.T.’s demeanor. “I’m going to get into that crowd, somehow. I just recently twisted my knee in Detroit. There’s always that one person who wants to hold onto me when I land, which led to me getting hurt That’s cool, though. I’m still smiling. You’ll never see me mean mug the camera. I’m a rapper that smiles.”