Cadillactica (to be released Nov. 11, 2014)
Big K.R.I.T. should be a megastar by now.
K.R.I.T. has spent the last four summers blessing the game with some of the most insightful, soulful and downright funky tracks of the past decade. Seven tracks into Cadillactica, his sophomore album, he outright christens himself the “King of the South.”
I don’t see any contenders.
But despite a nearly flawless collection of free albums disguised as mixtapes, K.R.I.T.’s mainstream success has been a bit murky. His major label debut — 2012’s Live From the Underground — has been erroneously labeled a failure. It was very strong debut that simply failed to find a mainstream audience, while also disappointing some longtime fans who longed for K.R.I.T.’s gritty soul sounds.
Cadillactica looks to bridge that gap, dragging both new and longtime listeners out of their comfort zones into K.R.I.T.’s own universe.
Album intro “Kreation” sets the stage for space-age pimpin’ — lasers wiz by in background as K.R.I.T. constructs an ethereal atmosphere.
K.R.I.T.’s soulful Southern sounds have made him the spiritual successor to groups like OutKast and Goodie Mob, but it’s his lyrical content that puts him in a league of his own. “I found life in the darkest of times, but how can I describe what’s God’s design with these faulty eyes that often lie?/Stars shine bright but they often die,” K.R.I.T. ponders on “Life.” Later, he waxes poetic about lessons of childhood on “Soul Food” — “if it ain’t made with love, it ain’t fit to serve.” In just that one line, K.R.I.T. makes a monumental statement about family and his own musical craft — lessons from his grandma’s kitchen table. And for the lyric junkies among us, the title track “Cadillactica” is just a 5 minute rampage through the cosmos.
But because this is a major label release, we do get some radio-friendly tracks. “Pay Attention” is definitely heartfelt, showing growth from K.R.I.T.’s past strip-club obsessions, but it may turn off longtime fans. Don’t worry, Krizzle hasn’t forgotten y’all — the minimalistic “My Sub Pt. 3” is a throwback to K.R.I.T.’s Return of 4 Eva glory days.
While the first half the album is a phenomenal balance of the “old” and “new” K.R.I.T., the second half of the album loses a bit of momentum. K.R.I.T.’s love affair with his Caddy on “Do You Love Me for Real” and heavy handed seduction of “Third Eye” fall short. Lyrically, they’re solid contenders, but the subject matter isn’t really inspiring. We get a much needed pickup with the introspective “Saturday’s a Celebration”: “In the event of my demise I won’t go kicking and screaming/I know God had a reason, just don’t give up believing.” Even in death, K.R.I.T. drops gems.
The album’s deluxe edition includes a couple of tracks that landed on mixtapes earlier this year — “Lac Lac” and a remix of the best song of 2014, “Mt. Olympus.” The remix doesn’t reach the heights of the original though — the new production is a bit too bombastic, which muddles K.R.I.T.’s sick wordplay.
And really, that’s the story Cadillactica — it’s a very good album that’s just a couple of steps away from total greatness. But despite its flaws, K.R.I.T. sounds like he’s finally finding himself, packaging his fiery passion and keen insight for more mainstream audiences.
Cadillactica isn’t the classic album we know K.R.I.T. can deliver, but he’s getting closer.
Yet another step closer to megastardom.
Best tracks: “Kreation,” “Cadillactica,” “Life”
4 stars out of 5