Trappin’ & Snappin’: Big K.R.I.T. On Olympus

In which Big K.R.I.T snaps figuratively and lyrically. Fed up with the charades that comprise being a major label Southern rapper struggling to re-make “Soul Food” for the 21st Century....
By    April 29, 2014

mt-olympus-water-andIn which Big K.R.I.T snaps figuratively and lyrically. Fed up with the charades that comprise being a major label Southern rapper struggling to re-make “Soul Food” for the 21st Century. You can make country rap anthems all day long and still never see radio. It’s the permanent war between music that you can ride to and music they play in the club. And at some point, the former became regarded as less valid than the latter. You can see it in criticism and on the charts.

There’s a subtext to most rap conversation that sales are the supreme goal. K.R.I.T.’s been fighting the odds from the start. He’s from Mississippi, whose contribution to mainstream rap scarcely extends past David Banner. His music is thoughtful and nostalgic, filled with a love of the Dungeon Family, Rap-A-Lot, Suave House, and U.G.K. But odes to package stores and tire rotations aren’t enough to replace “OG Bobby Johnson” or “Turn Down for What” or whatever one-dimensional banger has barnstormed radio that month. As someone who loves many of those songs, it’s obvious that there’s no reason why they can’t co-exist. And they do in 95 percent of the people who are obsessed enough with rap and words to read a blog on the Internet.

That’s not to say that there aren’t rappers on the radio attempting to give something of more substance. Kendrick is the token example of someone transcending as a mostly straight-edged everyman lacking a bulletproof persona, or wardrobe test-approved by Italian designers with names similar to Ninja Turtles. But he also has the Dre co-sign, which somehow still counts even though his headphones break the moment Lil Half Dead takes them off to put his dick on someone’s head. There’s Macklemore, who looks like Steve Nash met Diplo met a Vancouver Furrier from 1942, and writes gloopy anthems that hit the sweet spot of people who take pride in having read The Notebook before it was turned into a movie. But if you’re a Southern rapper who doesn’t make trap music, it’s been nearly impossible to earn national radio play. Trinidad James remains a bigger name to casual fans than Big K.R.I.T. because he figured out that everyone makes the Ric Flair “Woo” when they’re rolling.

The problem is that radio equals sales equals publicity, equals getting to stay on a major label equals perception of success, which often becomes reality. As much as we malign the major label system, that’s how you stay paid (unless you’re on the Atmosphere plan). Juicy J might not have sold 200K of Stay Trippy, but his prominence and Dr Luke affiliation got him on “Dark Horse.” It also got his “yeah ho” ad-lib on “Mt Olympus,” but K.R.I.T. has probably been on him since before the smoke cleared.  This song is about a lot of things. It’s confused and lashes out in a bunch of different directions. It’s furious and wounded and determined to piss on graves. It’s the best thing that K.R.I.T has done in years. Many of us left him for dead after his debut went teak and he’s more than happy to spit in our faces. That’s a good thing. Angry rappers are often the best rappers, especially in the lane that K.R.I.T. exists in, one book-ended by Boosie and Gibbs.

I have no clue if this is intended to make radio or if this is just a street single. If it’s the latter, it’s the cavalry waving flags and firearms, asking questions and offering no answers. But sometimes resolution is less important than the scorched earth technique. K.R.I.T’s spent the last few years figuring out how to be all things to everyone, before realizing it’s impossibility. “Mt Olympus” is his way of staking higher ground and picking off anyone encroaching on the territory. He will be the country rapper snapping until he dies so he might as well proudly embrace it.



We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!