In the futuristic world that is Cadillactica, Big K.R.I.T. is the creator and the innovator of what is to be a land of grandeur; bass; and themes of love, strength, and fame. On his most conceptual effort, Big K.R.I.T. takes listeners on an interstellar ride through hip-hop history, parading as the carrier of the torch for Southern hip-hop, and bringing the same listeners to rest in front of two fifteens and a legend in the making.
“Cadillactica, I had to create a planet in order to really help people understand what I’m trying to to do as far as my music is concerned, and that’s: not be part of a box, not be put in a box, not be put in a genre, but create music that stands on its own. That’s what was always about for me.” – Big K.R.I.T., from “DJ Dibiase Intro” off of See Me On Top Vol. 4.
Back in 2012, the Mississippian hip-hop artist received some criticism for his first album Live From The Underground, despite its generally positive reviews because some of the songs sounded forcibly mainstream at times. On Cadillactica, K.R.I.T. has never sounded so natural. What’s more is that on the rapper’s sophomore effort, he created a concept that threads the entire project together; a narrative that encompasses the duration of the album in a loose enough way to allow both bangers and more mellow tracks to coexist in a uniform manner. In the post good kid, m.A.A.d. city era of hip-hop albums, it continually becomes more and more interesting to listen how young hip-hop artists craft full-length projects. Big K.R.I.T. did not fail to get creative on his second studio album with Def Jam, crafting an album that is sure to project the Southern producer/rapper’s reputation into a much higher status among some of hip-hop’s modern greats.
Lyrically, Big K.R.I.T. asserts himself as a profound lyricist through an abundance of double entendres and metaphors, quotables and the stream of consciousness that threads through the narrative as I mentioned earlier. While always one to dabble in thought-provoking subjects – the good and the bad, religion, higher learning, etc. – K.R.I.T. really takes on a new level of profundity on Cadillactica. On the intro track, “Kreation,” the emcee tells a tale of the creation of the planet Cadillactica, which was formed by the big bang of an 808 kick as explained on “My Sub, Pt. 3 (Big Bang).” Then Big K.R.I.T. stretches the planet to be a metaphor for a child, which he names Grace on “Third Eye.” As you can probably tell, the complexity of this album’s construction is practically mind-numbing; one listen could not unveil all of the master craftwork put into this record.
The production on Cadillactica is handled mostly by K.R.I.T. himself, but other producers like Terrace Martin and DJ Dahi had their hand in curating certain songs. Interestingly, the majority of songs tend to be tamer than many of Big K.R.I.T.’s prior releases. Possibly for the sake of the narrative, the beats on the album feature more dynamics, mellower drums and less flare than what listeners may be used to from the usually truck-rattling producer. Yet this direction in sound only boasts a more mature presence for such a fresh star in the game. Cadillactica trades all bass and hook for complexity and deeper meaning, and it pays off.
Songs like “My Sub, Pt. 3 (Big Bang),” “Cadillactica,” and “King of the South” will entertain those looking for hard-hitting beats with memorable lines. For those yearning for the provocative lyricist in K.R.I.T. and more unique instrumentation, songs like “Angels,” “Lost Generation (feat. Lupe Fiasco),” and “Saturdays = Celebration” serve up a portion of intense production and true poetry. In between are songs like “Life,” a banger that details the artist’s realization of fame and his outlook on this life and beyond. “Soul Food (feat. Raphael Saadiq)” has an incredible piano accompaniment and a nostalgic feel that makes it a surprise standout track on the album. Then there are tracks like “Mo Betta Cool,” which features Southern hip-hop legends Bun B and Devin The Dude, that is a tip of a hat to classic Southern hip-hop both in sound and content. Throughout Cadillactica, references to K.R.I.T.’s home state of Mississippi, Cadillacs and themes of ones humanity somehow fit together in a way that, after listening, are hard to question. Sounding so fluid and right, every subject, no matter how unrelated in theory, K.R.I.T. touches on and builds up the realm that is the world of Cadillactica and fits them together like a puzzle.
Cadillactica transcends any preconceived notion of what Southern hip-hop is, has been or will be. Big K.R.I.T. is a nominal artist for good reason; his creativity soars lightyears beyond several of his contemporaries. His lyrical prowess is unparalleled to those representing his geographical region (and arguably others, too), his beats always knock, and now he’s shown that he can craft a concept album while still cranking out straight bangers. Few hip-hop artists today can cover as much ground as Big K.R.I.T. covers on Cadillactica, and the album only proves the artistry and strength of the 2011 XXL Freshman. A true Southern elite, Cadillactica is Big K.R.I.T.’s best album to date and can easily be considered for album of the year.
1) Kreation (Intro)
3) My Sub, Pt. 3 (Big Bang)
5) Soul Food (feat. Raphael Saadiq)
6) Pay Attention (feat. Rico Love)
7) King of the South
8) Mind Control (feat. E-40 & Wiz Khalifa)
9) Standby [Interlude] (feat. Kenneth Whalum III)
10) Do You Love Me (feat. Mara Hruby)
11) Third Eye
12) Mo Betta Cool (feat. Bun B, Devin The Dude & Big Sant)
14) Saturdays = Celebration (feat. Jamie N Collins)
15) Lost Generation (feat. Lupe Fiasco)