A lot of young artists find their voice through emulating art they love. This can be a slow process, picking out the parts they like, dismissing what they don’t, it’s so important for artists to try and find as much variety in what they enjoy, so when its’ brought together and built upon, something unique can grow.
Other times an artist’s hand can be forced into finding a direction quicker than they anticipated. A sense of love or loss can overwhelm them, and they’ll work tirelessly to describe the feeling.
Justin Scott, Big Krit, is a musician and rapper from Mississippi. He’s a gifted producer with a strong connection to and love for the South. His first piece of recording software was a beat maker on the playstation and was then given some old recording equipment by a producer who’d upgraded to something better. He draws exclusively from UGK, T.I., Outkast, 8ball and MJG, Goodie Mob and other southern rap legends.
As far as rapping goes, Krit can find flows, although they’re also within the world of southern rap legends. The wit of Pimp C and the wisdom of Bun B can be emulated, Krit’s problem is telling a story or writing lyrics that were outside the world of Cadillacs, shrimp and being a pimp. You always feel like Krit loves the lifestyle Pimp C paints more than the lifestyle itself.
The song that represents him best at this time is Country Shit, an explosive beat that throws every country rap reference in the book at you.
In interviews he’s remarkably shy. A charming humility not reflected in his music. Listening to him boast on Just Touched Down is almost cute- he sounds just like a rapper.
In a time where Wiz Khalifa and Odd Future are finding carefree flows and new ways to sound rebellious, Krit’s classical influence significantly dates him, he’s yet to make that crucial step to build his own sound and voice out of the amalgamation of his influences.
Then, Krit’s hand is forced. Ms Linnie, his Grandmother, passes away. Krit, who was living out of his car, selling beats while trying to make a name for himself in Atlanta, drives back to Meridian Mississippi. He records songs in his grandmothers kitchen, songs about growing up with her, how much he misses her and takes an honest look at who he was and who he wanted to be.
He starts playing with samples in creative ways, on “Something” he samples Al Green’s song of the same name, using Al Green’s words to start, end and interrupt his lyrics.
On Hometown Hero he samples Adele and takes a warped look at his desperation for success, chasing a lifestyle that could lead to death
“Swerving through the traffic, wrapped round a pole, sell a mill off the tragedy”
While the song is still laden with many rap cliches, It’s far from Just Touched Down or See Me On Top. There’s a weariness to it, each boast coming with warning.
His Grandmother’s presence is all over the album, he remembers her warmth on Something and 2000 and Beyond. On Gumpshun she’s referenced in the chorus, sings her name on the outro on Neva go Back, and on I Gotta Stay he talks directly to her. It’s the starkest contrast to his earlier work, so far from rapping, it’s a natural conversation with someone he wishes he could talk to again.
These tracks, along with the songs he’d been making for the past five years, all went on the same album, Krit Wuz Here. It’s fascinating to see such a clear line on the same album to see the difference in personality and craft. There were signs of Krit going in different directions before the tragedy of death and the privilege to grieve took over his mind, with “They Got Us” “Good Enough” and “Glass House” showing a rapper find his voice with storytelling and beginning to hold his own with stoner rap aficionado’s Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa and Smoke DZA. He even becomes a proud crate digger, which is a trait associated with New York more than the south. There was a slow growth building up, but it was the songs about Ms Linnie that made it personal.
The album blows up, gets him huge recognition and he signs to Def Jam records. Sha Money XL, the man that signs big Krit says that Country Shit is one of the best songs to have come out in years and Krit reminds him of when he singed 50 Cent. Sha leaves DefJam a year later.
At this time, I’m an open mic stand up comedian and attending a weekly poetry course at the Roundhouse. In the evening I try to make people laugh as much as I can and on the bus home I’d write a lot of overly confessional poetry. Grappling with wanting to be an entertainer and express a part of myself that doesn’t feel funny. I found Krit a week or so KWH came out after reading about him getting booed offstage opening up for Jay Electronica, then listening to his freestyle over the Exhibit A and C beats.
Krit is two years older than me, during a transitional time where the relationship between my dad I was changing and my self-imposed exile from boxing and the trainers I looked up to, Krit plays the roll of a big brother. At this time, I was alone a lot, most of my time was spent on trains and busses, working with primary school children and entertaining audiences, it would’ve been a lonely few years if it wasn’t for the singular voices of rappers telling me about their struggles and success. Something about Krit clicked with me. It might’ve been the contrast in Krit Wuz Here, jumping from Superman to Clark Kent with each song.
It’s been nine years since Krit Wuz Here, Krit would follow up with his masterpiece, Return of 4eva, and other albums of varying quality, leave DefJam under less than ceremonious circumstances- I’ve passionately followed his career for years now, while he’s grown as an artist, KWH will always have a special place in my heart.
“I wrote my best songs on the Greyhound to the A, swear I ate a Sandwich a day”