Interview: Big K.R.I.T. Updates Fans on Cadillactica, Talks Studio Sessions with Lil Boosie and Jeezy
Words by Paul Meara (@Paul_Meara)
The southern-fried, candy paint ‘Lac-pushin,’ big backyard melodies Meridian, Mississippi native Big K.R.I.T. creates in his music always feed fans hungry for something with a little traditional southern twang. Four mixtapes and a debut album deep, the self-proclaimed “King Remembered In Time” is slated to release his sophomore studio album Cadillactica under Def Jam in 2014.
“With Cadillactica, I’ve grown to a point now that it’ll come out when it comes out and express to people why I’m taking so long on it,” Big K.R.I.T. said when reflecting on his past releases. “I’ve had an immense amount of time and I want to do the same with Cadillactica because it’s just as important as anything I’ve ever dropped.”
A recent album trailer revealed that K.R.I.T.’s sophomore album is slated to drop in the fourth quarter of this year. In an exclusive interview with Nah Right, the King Remembered In Time talks about his upcoming album and what we can expect on it, and also speaks about his recent studio time with Lil Boosie and Jeezy and what they mean to him as rap colleagues. In addition, he weighs in on the possibility of a new Outkast album, and expresses his love for an opportunity to—if nothing else—sit in on what the legendary Atlanta duo might create. He definitely has the beats on deck.
What’s been up with you non-musically recently?
As far as what I do now non-musically is I have a habit of just trying to get away from music and chill man. I’ve been playing Titanfall a lot and Call Of Duty: Black Ops, NBA 2K. And aside from that, just roll around the city and just chilling in my car, listening to music that inspires me from back in the day. Not even really stopping no where, just driving and trying to get the vibe of what it feels like to just have an “against the nation” mentality and just how music make you feel, getting there and just creating it from that perspective. Also man, just enjoying the fact that I put out so much music that we can go to clubs and just kick it. I’m relaxing a lot in between doing music but you know how I am, I’m always just ready.
And speaking of music, Cadillactica will be your sophomore studio album. I think the bigger news surrounding this one obviously is that you’re not doing much of the production on it, but how much are you producing it from a standpoint of a director–maybe not on the boards but saying like, “Yo, I want it like this or I want this sound here,” or whatever?
Well, you know. I’m still involved. The beautiful thing is that I’m able to work with the type of musicians that I’m still able to give them my ideas. It could be a title or just the understanding of what I physically heard for the song that they can create or already have something in that manner. And then, we sit down and brainstorm the best possible idea for the record, because it’s one of those things that if I know that I went and somebody sent me a beat, and I just went crazy on it, I’m going to do what I would naturally do with my own records. I’m trying to take myself clean out my comfort zone, and if I’m going to do a riding song or a song about cars, not do it necessarily in the same realm that most people know of me doing it. I’m going to try to take if further and even with production—with the instrumentals and the beats that people give me—I try not to tell people so much what I want on the track. But even then, I can influence the record to semi-sound like something I would have made by myself. And I want to stay far away from that man, and just get to be an artist and vibe. It’s a blessing to be able to work with so many talented people.
I remember in an interview a while back, around the time you announced that Cadillactica was the title of your next album, you said it would be done when you could ride from Atlanta to Meridian and back and the whole album is smooth and perfect. Are we at or close to that point now?
Yeah, definitely. I would say at this very moment, with the content I have created, I can ride from Atlanta to Birmingham. It ain’t all the way there where I can get from Atlanta to Meridian, Mississippi, but I think I’m close, man. And for me, I feel like I still have a lot of time to create and record and go to different places and see new things that I can kind of implement in my music, but I want to take people on a journey. I always have with a lot of my projects, and they all kind of tie into each other. So this is just another chapter of my journey and my own life.
I know many have been asking you about the pressure of this second album. A lot of people didn’t like the first one as much as say, your mixtapes. I think that’s partly because of your ability to sample without clearing on free projects. Do you feel Def Jam was holding back a full budget for your first one, and is that the same case this time around if that was the case?
I mean nah, I don’t think they were holding me back. I think there was, as far as me doing free content for so long, and then have a turn-around. And it’s retail, and you having a set budget, and that’s what you have to clear a sample to make things happen. I was unfamiliar with a portion of how long it takes to clear samples. And some samples you just can’t clear, so having to deal with that. And then, having the time frame for songs to come out, and promoting the album, and so that’s what I dealt with the first album.
If you look at my first single, “Money On The Floor” came out in September of 2011, but my album didn’t drop until June, so that’s a lot of time to kind of be in limbo with a release date with finishing the album. And then I dropped a mixtape in between, and I devoted so much time to that content as well, but it was easier because I didn’t have to clear samples. So that’s why sonically it sounds so free-flowing, because I wasn’t as concerned as when I was working on the album. I was like, “Okay, I got this sample, I need to get credits, I need to reach out to the person.” And then, you never know if you’re going to use that song or not per se, but in the event that you are going to use that song for the album, you still need to check up on getting it cleared. It’s definitely a different mentality you have to go in with [when you’re] making your album.
I was also on tour twice the year I was working on my album. This year, I decided not [to tour], and be in a place where I can solely create and focus all my attention on this one project, not being tired, getting off stage and having to go to the studio, my voice not sounding right. None of that is happening on this one. It’s all, “Hey man, if the sun shining outside, I’m recording.”
Do you feel that you’ve went though a learning experience going from Live From The Underground to now, Cadillactica?
Ah yeah, definitely. It’s also a different kind of hunger involved, too. You know, I hit a milestone by, in my mind, signing to a major label and being able to drop an album. It’s so surreal that it takes a while for you to come down and realize, “Okay, this is when it really gets real, and I have to focus and drop an album. And so all of that pressure falls on you at some point. You might be in studio, and you’re not just rapping because it feels good, you’re rapping because you got to finish. And people can hear that through the music. It translates. With Cadillactica, I’ve grown to a point now that it’ll come out when it comes out, and express to people why I’m taking so long on it, express to the people the importance of quality, and that when it came to K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and all these projects, I’ve had an immense amount of time. And I want to do the same with Cadillactica because it’s just as important as anything I’ve ever dropped.
I felt it was strange that you didn’t want to produce for the most part on Cadillactica and was kind of sad that you weren’t but then I heard you have Organized Noize on this one so I forgave.
[Laughs.] But yeah, what encouraged that decision to almost completely just stick to rapping this time around?
Well, first off I want to say I’m still going to be doing some production on the album. I’m not totally not producing on the album. So yeah, I got to clear that up, after doing Live From The Underground, [and] after doing King Remembered In Time, because I ended up producing that whole project except one record.
The 9th Wonder joint…
Yeah, going in with 9th Wonder showed me something, because I got there, and I had these crazy beats, bro. And I didn’t have to do nothing but write. 9th even recorded. I usually record myself as well. 9th Wonder showed me that it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to get out of my comfort zone and create. I also put so much music out there that a lot of these producers I respect know of my content and know of my music, and most of them already have beats they want to play me anyway. You know?
Something unique that you did was the Week of K.R.I.T., where you released a song every weekday of that certain week. What inspired you to do that, and how many of those joints are making Cadillactica, if any?
Nah, all of those tracks that I put out there for K.R.I.T. Week were just for the people. I created those songs specifically for Week of K.R.I.T. Being able to have Rick Ross on it, A$AP Ferg and Smoke DZA, Big Sant [was great], but these were all songs I wanted to give to the people man. I just wanted to give them something. I haven’t dropped a project since April of 2013, and it was just like, “Man, I want people to hear the growth here, and I’m excited again.” I think people can hear in the tone of my voice and the amount of aggressiveness on these songs that I’m excited, I’m ready. It’s several records I produced too so for all the people that want me to produce for myself I did, but none of those songs were for Cadillactica or right now are on Cadillactica. But I know people really liked me clicking with A$AP Ferg, and I’ve been seeing that pop up on radio stations around here. So that’s exciting that people are supporting it like that.
Cadillactica will be your sixth project release. Which project though that you’ve already dropped has been your favorite so far?
Oooh, it’s hard to say.
I know, that’s why I love asking that question to certain artists. [Laughs.]
Alright. [Laughs.] I can break it down like this: K.R.I.T. Wuz Here was my favorite mixtape in the sense of my hunger, because it was like, “This is either going to work or we’re going back home.” And that’s why it had so many songs on it, so many different sounds. It had a West Coast feel, the “93 ’til Infinity” chop in it with me and Curren$y, and it was all that only for a project. I would say Return of 4Eva was musically my favorite one based off of how I sampled, what I sampled, the amount of singing, and the subject matter, from “Free My Soul” to “Another Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism.”
4EvaNaDay was my most scientific one. I was very proud of that project, because I was able to not stay in the typical lane of making music, but to actually try to make a storybook in itself. And, make every song go together, from what time of day you should play it and how that time of day feels in the warmth of the music and the color hues, and even how I’m rapping and what I’m rapping about.
Live From The Underground is a milestone forever because it’s my first album and I produced it all, man. So I could never downplay that. It has its own position in my career because it definitely did a lot more numbers than people expected it to do, and it gave people what I told them I was going to do, which was never leave the underground, and rap about what I want to rap about. “I’ll feature the people I want to feature,” and that’s what I did. People may not have expected what it was compared to my mixtapes and [may not] feel it lived up to them, but me knowing what I went through to put it out, and then some of the songs on there. Like, the record with B.B. King will stand the test of time.
King Remembered In Time is its own entity. That’s me coming back from the album and tour like, “Hey, let’s do this.” And now we here, man. And with Cadillactica, it’s going to be its own monster. And I think people are going to be able to tell with every song.
Instagram has revealed a lot about you recently. You’re working with Lil Boosie, and you had the pics showing it too. It’s dope because you have to be one of the first people he came in contact with after his release from prison. What all did you accomplish together in the studio?
It was amazing man. It’s crazy because his brother promoted a show for me before Boosie got out, and he was like, “Man Boosie really want to work with you.” And I’m like, “Word?” I’m kind of shocked, like, “Okay, yeah put it together if you can.” And I just kind of went by my way. And then I was in New York, right before SXSW, shooting a video. And he called me, and my man was like, “Boosie want to talk to you.” And I was like, “Word.” And he was just like, “Man, I want to come though, make some beats and vibe.” And I was like, “Hell yeah, I’m there.”
I didn’t go to SXSW this year, and I took a road trip as a producer. I went down there, and I knocked out some songs with the OG, and it was amazing because he crazy with it. I’m talking ‘bout just got out, he’s insane voice wise, and he got mad content, and his work ethic is already crazy. So we was just down there, I play a record, and he was like, “Oh, I got that, let’s go!” And then, the same thing for the next one. I’m excited for people to hear the music. I’m blessed to be able to work with him, and just be able to give him a little of Big K.R.I.T. now and having him rap over it, it’s going to be exciting for people.
Is the content you guys produced mainly for you, him, or both?
Umm, it works out for both of us but I’m going to wait for the records to come out, I don’t want to talk about it too much. We’re waiting on it.
I think people may see Boosie similar to how they see you, but kind of in a different capacity. Both of you definitely portray realer situations in your raps. Do you think that’s true, and maybe a reason he wanted to get in touch with you pretty soon after his release?
I think it’s definitely a mutual understanding of being from small cities, and being able to overcome a lot of things financially and things of that nature, and wanting to put that in the music. Growing up, listening to the kind of music that I listened to, being able to hear Bun B, Pimp C, UGK. And he got a taste of all of their music. And the amount of honesty he puts in his music, I also got that kind of thought process from UGK as well. Them being from Port Arthur, Texas and really, they didn’t care that the city was small. They rapped about their city, they rapped about their backyard, they made you want to go there. And I took from that, and I did the same thing.
And he’s always doing it for the people around him. It don’t matter to him if you’ve been to his city before, he’s going to tell you about it. He’s going to tell you about his struggles, not even trying to sugar coat it. And I feel like I hold the same sort of ideas with my music, so it makes sense. Even the records that I played for him, it wasn’t like I was trying to get him to go straight for the charts or nothing like that, but just trying to get him something I felt in my heart was quality music and something that people were going to feel.
You also were recently pictured in studio with Jeezy. Did you guys record anything together? What was that like?
It was random but dope, in a good way. I was working on Cadillactica in the other room, and I found out he was coming in to work too. And I’ve known the OG for a minute, so I went in and hollered at him. And he was like, “Yo man, I’m working, get the beats, let’s go.” And I’ve got beats, you know? [Laughs.] So I showed him these records, man, and it’s beautiful now more than ever that people have come to me for my music. It’s not just the rapper that people search for, but sometimes it’s just the producer. And I want to brand that just as much. I’m behind a lot of the music people have heard from me and music that I’ve been featured on, and I want to implement that side of me, too. And it’s exciting to see somebody go H.A.M. on one of my tracks and I ain’t even have to say nothing on it.
Reflecting on your career at this point, have you accomplished everything you’ve wanted to so far and if not, what is missing?
Nah, I think I’ve got a lot more work to do in music, spiritually even. After this album, [I want to] kind of chill, sit back, and really try to go to my hometown and do as much as I can to inspire people. Because that’s what it’s all about. And the music has given me the opportunity to be able to talk and not [have] an instrumental behind me, but to be able to say something to somebody. And hopefully, they can take something positive from it and follow their dreams as well. There’s always work to be done, and especially when it comes to trying to help people. With me, my ultimate goal was at the beginning of my career [to say] something important. You never run out of important things to say.
Speaking of your hometown, do you feel that people like yourself, Tito Lopez, and Big Sant are the next generation Mississippi flag holders, like Crooked Lettaz, David Banner and Kamikaze were years ago?
Oh yeah, definitely. It’s a lot of talent down there. It’s really hard to get out, and it’s hard to promote. Big Sant, Tito Lopez, The Joker. There’s artists coming up that are making it happen, and thank God social networking makes it a little bit easier to put the music out there and [allow] people to get a hold of it and not really care where you from. But yeah man, I think it’s going to be an amazing movement and an amazing push. Everybody has their time to shine, and we going to get ours.
Outkast is also a group, like UGK and 8 Ball & MJG, that you’re very fond of. First off, working with the Dungeon Family has to bring some sort of nostalgia back to the era where Outkast had a heavy influence on the south. Do you feel Outkast will ever drop another album?
Man, two things. Of course, working with Dungeon Family, Organized Noize, being on Big Boi’s album, it’s crazy. It’s definitely unreal sometimes to sit back and listen to that record knowing that I share a record with Big Boi and UGK. Yes, I think they’ll do another album. Looking at what they’ve accomplished and what they’ve been able to do with music, they can take a step back and create something so massive. And when you kind of create something from that mentality, it’s definitely not a two or three quarter kind of situation—that kind of stuff might take years. I think the tour they finna do is definitely going to rejuvenate everything and re-inspire people to be ready for that kind of content. ‘Cause when they drop, it’s going to change a lot. [Laughs.] Every time they drop an album, music changes. Hip-hop changes. So I’m excited, and Lord willing I could be a part of it.
What would you do to be a part of it, either producing or rapping?
Man, it’s whatever. I’ve got records I’ve made particularly for them in my archives anyway. But just to know that if they are doing one, I might have to call Big Boi up and pull a little favor. [Laughs.] Or even just sit in and throw a kick drum on one of these records or something.
You’re definitely about the car culture in the South as well, and you talk about it a lot in your music. What old school whip would you die to have?
Die to have that I don’t have right now? [Laughs.] Ah shit, I don’t know that I’d say that I’d die but man I still don’t have a ’64 Impala.
Ah man, yeah definitely.
[There] was always this one cat in Meridian, Mississippi when I was growing up that had a low rider, and I just can’t help but want to drive down the 300 Block hitting a three-wheel motion. I want it to be in champagne though to look just like Doughboy’s car in Boyz n the Hood, I want it to look just like that. That’s the car, I wouldn’t say die for, but I’d pay a lot of money for definitely.
Last time we talked, you said your mom’s mac and cheese is fantastic. Anything you’ve had on tour elsewhere messing with what you have at home?
Yes, I went to Red in Miami and had a steak and it was probably the greatest steak I’ve ever had. I would have to say that that is up there, that competes.
[Laughs.] Sure, sure. What’s coming up with you in the immediate future?
The album, touring, promoting Big Sant project, and working with my partners Smoke DZA, D-Lo, Joey Bada$$. And as a producer, kind of being able to go farther than just hip-hop with all kinds of genres. I make a lot of different kinds of music. I don’t necessarily have to sing or rap on it to be a part of an album. Don’t be surprised if there’s a country song that come out here that I had something to do with.
Pics via Big K.R.I.T.’s Instagram.