Just as many official albums don't deserve to be official albums and should be categorised as freely downloadable mixtapes - it's becoming increasingly common to stumble upon free mixtapes that, in a perfect world, should be treated as proper records that cost money to buy. Accustomed as we are to paying for shitty fast food, it's still surprising and confusing to find free caviar on the internet, like “4Eva N A Day”, the new delivery by Big K.R.I.T.. The Mississippi rapper and producer was crowned as the great hope of hip-hop last year, thanks to the excellent “Return Of 4Eva”. K.R.I.T. is an all-round writer who combines many influences in a unique sound and lyrical repertoire. He says true to his Southern roots as well as his passion for golden-era rap; injecting freshness into his music by taking influences from the rich history of jazz, soul, funk and spoken word. He is the impossible cross between A Tribe Called Quest, UGK, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, The Last Poets, Miles Davis and early Kanye West.
“4Eva N A Day” is reason for some concern. Though he has been signed to Def Jam for months and word has it his official debut album, “Live From The Underground”, is finished, there's no news about a release any time soon. Big K.R.I.T. is almost forced to release prime material for free, music that could perfectly easily be included on his first LP, in order to keep the buzz going. It's all speculation, of course, but we're starting to get the impression that Def Jam is waiting for more accessible and radio-friendly material, but that Big K.R.I.T. isn't up for that right now. “4Eva N A Day” has soul, sensibility, density and ambition - it's an album for the long run - but there's no big single on it, no pop flirtations. His total lack of interest in being successful in the club or on the radio is admirable.
It also seems no coincidence that the MC decided not to work with any guest vocalists (the only guests are on the instrumental side: Mike Hartnett on guitar and Willie B on sax; that's it), at a time when every single new release seems to be judged by the number of featurings it possesses. Furthermore - now that his name is on the lips of every magazine, artist and fan - it's a bold sign of personality that he doesn't make the easy call to famous colleagues, inviting them to do their thing on his album. An album defining itself on the sleeve art: nocturnal, reflexive, intimate and introspective. “4Eva N A Day” is a wonderful demonstration of anti-climactic hip-hop, deliberately shying away from melodic tricks, conventional choruses and classic structures - or any kind of orthodoxy. K.R.I.T. uses a lot of instruments to give the whole thing a warm feel, but it never sounds like a band; the samples and instrumentation are perfectly in balance.
With a jazzier vibe, with a sound reminiscent of clubs from another era and melancholic summer nights, “4va N A Day” is pure soul. Its conceptual premise is the story of a day in the rapper's life - with his emotional highs and lows, flashes of nostalgia, creative reflections, thoughts on religion and spiritual matters, alongside his day-to-day problems. It always sets a positive tone, human and hopeful. K.R.I.T. takes us to his world on a release that is produced with grandeur and unlimited inspiration. “Yesterday”, “Boobie Miles” and “Package Store”, with that air of soul noir; “Me And My Old School Guitar” and “Insomnia”, defining crepuscular crunk; or “Wake Up” and “The Alarm”, vast, tossing and turning rap, are some of the highlights on this album. Here his enormous talent shines bright; hip-hop will have a hard time finding a more elegant and stylish sound than this in 2012.