CONCERT RECAP: Big K.R.I.T. @ House of Blues – 8/7/12

When Mississippi’s dropped the Return of 4Eva mixtape in 2011, the blogosphere quickly hailed him as the next big thing in Southern hip-hop. Here was a strong emcee who produced his own music – retro soul samples and beats that pop – and had something to say. His playful delivery made songs about partying and cars sound fresh again, while tracks like “Another Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism” showed a social conscience. “R4 Theme Song” was straight-up empowering. The whole thing felt genuine.

On Tuesday, K.R.I.T. played the in New Orleans in support of Live from the Underground, his debut studio album (i.e., you’re supposed to pay for this one), released in June on Def Jam. It’s undeniably fun, but it lacks the charm of Return of 4Eva. It’s clearly targeting a wider audience, and as a whole the album seems a bit less contemplative. At the show, like on his albums, K.R.I.T. tucked the heartfelt material right before the finale. “The Vent,” a cut from Return about god, death and regret, was the night’s emotional apex. Mostly, though, the show was a star-studded victory lap for an artist celebrating his long-awaited major label debut.

Much of Live from the Underground sounds like it was made for the live setting. It emphasizes catchy, repetitive choruses that the crowd can shout along to, and that’s exactly what they did during tunes like “Yeah Dats Me” and “I Got This.”

K.R.I.T. apologized for rapping too much about cars and candy paint before launching into “Me and My Old School,” “Rotation,” and “Pull Up,” a trio of driving songs. He grinned facetiously. He has a baby face that adds to his appeal.

Just past the midpoint of his 75-minute set, K.R.I.T. left the stage, and his DJ played a Southern rap mix: Outkast, Three 6 Mafia, a snippet of Master P’s “Bout It, Bout It” for the Louisiana crowd. Then local producer/rapper/hip-hop hero hit the stage to the sound of the classic “Still Fly,” slapping hands with the folks pushed against the barrier. He didn’t grab the mic; he didn’t need to. He just strutted around for 30 seconds while the place went berserk.

That was only the beginning. After K.R.I.T. returned, , the biggest name in New Orleans hip-hop this side of Lil’ Wayne (and this month’s Gambit cover man), came out for “Glass House,” a collaboration of he and K.R.I.T.’s with Wiz Khalifa.

Seeing a couple local emcees was no huge surprise, but no one was ready for to show up. They performed their collaboration “I’m Flexin’” before K.R.I.T. yielded center stage (understandably – the Atlanta emcee has five platinum albums), and T.I. did his new single, “Go Get It.” It was the kind of surprise guest appearance that said of K.R.I.T., “You, sir, have arrived.”

Twitter would later reveal that Mos Def had also been in the house. He never appeared onstage, though a slew of other artists did throughout five opening sets. A few were local: youngster opened, and Corner Boy P and , a couple of artists from Curren$y’s Jet Life imprint, rapped over stoned, hazy beats.

Mississippi’s , who sometimes serves as K.R.I.T.’s hype man, did a short set. A heavy guy with glasses, Sant (pronounced sUHnt – he harped on this) shouts in a raspy voice reminiscent of Ice Cube. He said he was sorry his album isn’t out yet, and did a medley of other rappers’ verses. He probably didn’t pique a lot of interest, but it was a fun 15 minutes. He shares K.R.I.T.’s knack for casual affability.

, a native of Gulfport, Miss., gave a polished, high-energy set. His style – aggressive, earnest, occasionally sensitive – borrows from K.R.I.T.’s playbook. He found his way onto hip-hop heads’ radars last year with a cosign from Dr. Dre. He shouted out Ludacris, the Gulf Coast, and his momma.

Direct support came from , a former member of the Odd Future collective, who opened with “Ridin’ Roun’ Town.” One of the most slept-on songs of 2011, it features an addictive string loop from producer Brandun DeShay. Veggies, a California guy, was the only artist on the bill from outside the South; he wore a Saints hat to make up for it. Spitting verses from his Customized Greatly 3 mixtape, he worked the crowd with laid-back swagger and call and response hooks. His set drew big applause. It was clear the audience wanted more.

Review written by Brendan Twist.

August 10, 2012 |  by  |  Editor's Favorites, Features, Reviews
 
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