When Big K.R.I.T. announced that his 2017 project, 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, was a double album, hip-hop fans likely foamed at the mouth. In the days of instantaneous music consumption and regular surprise mixtapes and albums, artists seem to have less interest in dropping double albums than in years past. Why release two-plus years of music when it’ll likely be forgotten overnight?
For his third studio album, Big K.R.I.T. continues to buck traditions, dropping a 22-track, near 90 minute opus that can best be described as “country soul.” Independently released on October 27, 2017, 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time switches between woozy club hits, thumping speaker-knockers and K.R.I.T’s staple blend of introspection and southern charisma.
In the two years it took to produce the album, K.R.I.T. stayed active, dropping the mixtape 12 for 12, comprised of freestyles over some of 2016’s biggest cuts including ScHoolboy Q’s “That Part” and Future’s “Wicked.”
Outside of music, K.R.I.T. took the stage of the 2016 BET Hip-hop Awards to deliver a spoken word performance on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. He punctuated the sermon, “Another Civilian/ Another not guilty/ Another t-shirt/ Another rap lyric/ Another life gone/ I can’t forgive it.”
With his third studio album, Krizzle seeks to unify the human and the spiritual in arguably the most ambitious of his works to date. The double disc feature begins modestly, with K.R.I.T. forgoing a rapped intro in favor of a poetic delivery of words of advice as Justin Scott, the man behind the music. “My creator gave me the gift to create/ And this mind of mine apply to our escape,” opens the album, a sermon of sorts by Justin, for Justin. Reflecting on his past and prepping for the future, the track eventually swells from spoken word into K.R.I.T.’s signature frantic style as he pounds through the verse on top of clamorous percussion and choral female backing vocals that build up to the underlying spirituality the album professes.
Where the intro cut previews the “soul” that’s better manifested in the album’s second half, K.R.I.T. elicits a country union with Atlanta native T.I. for “Big Bank.” In an interview with Rodney Carmichael of NPR K.R.I.T. speaks of “Big Bank” saying it’s, “Just me being country, being southern, over a sample-melodic amazing song with knock.”
Thus the duality of the album is established early on, with K.R.I.T. willing to bounce back and forth between his reflective and earnest personas quite intentionally. The outro to disc one, “Get Away” see K.R.I.T. reminding himself to “get away from that bullshit that they on,” signaling the forthcoming focal shift for the album’s last half.
Fully self-aware, K.R.I.T. acknowledges this duality, not just in the double disc nature of the album, but more directly with the track “Mixed Messages.” “I got a whole lotta mixed messages in my songs/ Am I wrong to feel this way?” speaks to K.R.I.T.’s humanity, which he continues to wrestle with throughout the cut. Aiding the dichotomous quality of the track are K.R.I.T.’s bellowing vocals, deep and resonant and meshing against the higher pitched instrumental.
Sonically, 4eva does a great deal of service in the southern rap arena. Possibly best known for the rumblings of the Roland TR-808 and similar drum kits, K.R.I.T. and his producers incorporate enough bass to satisfy those southern roots all while leaving enough daylight for each track’s melody to flourish. On “1999” K.R.I.T. trades verses and hooks with singer Lloyd (formerly Lloyd Polite) on a Mannie Fresh produced cut that is eerily reminiscent of 2Pac’s “Run The Streetz” from All Eyez On Me. The similarities are likely intentional and if not, expected, as Pac remains one of K.R.I.T.’s most notable influences. In that same NPR interview, K.R.I.T. cites Tupac’s creative approach as one he sought to emulate. He recalls, “When I found out that Tupac wrote poetry and then turned them into the song format, that’s how I started.”
Despite the lengthy run time, K.R.I.T. offers a few auditory breaths, in the form of skits that speak to his commentary on both music and life itself. On “Classic Interlude” an unnamed man successfully attempts to sell K.R.I.T.’s confidant Big Sant on an album, deeming it a classic album featuring 14 skits across 14 songs. Despite Sant’s skepticism, he eventually comes around on the album being a classic which frames the skit as a satirical play on the virility of music in the internet age.
Beyond skits and trunk rattlers, K.R.I.T. calls upon a select number of featured guests to promote his message; On “Ride Wit Me” K.R.I.T. gets a spot from Houston legends UGK, with the late Pimp C providing the hook. CeeLo Green, Sleepy Brown lend their vocals to the cut “Get Up 2 Come Down” on top of a sample of Frank Dukes’ “13 Gangbanglul.” Songstress Jill Scott provides her angelic expression to “Higher Calling” and jazz cats Bilal, Robert Glasper, Kenneth Whalum and Burniss Earl Travis II unite on a Terrace Martin production, rife with his trademark saxophone phrases.
4Eva Is a Mighty Long Time masterfully balances K.R.I.T.’s bashful and frantic styles quite realistically. From track to track, K.R.I.T. exposes his shifting perspectives which keeps the album moving at a good clip. At 84 minutes, getting bogged down by a monotonous presentation is of great concern, but K.R.I.T. subverts this in his delivery style and by bisecting the project, explicitly reserving the first half for the personifications of Big K.R.I.T. and the second for Justin Scott though both shine throughout the tape. Ultimately, K.R.I.T. comes through as a savior, rising from Meridian, Mississippi to preach the gospel and unify life’s polarity.