Review Summary: Is this all he's got?
It’s not often that an album delay legitimately worries me, but I was willing to make an exception for this one. The delays put on King Remembered In Time were slight, no more than a couple hours, but the rationale was worrisome nonetheless: Big K.R.I.T. hadn’t finished yet. It’s not fair to expect perfect quality on a mixtape, but this proclamation imbued me with a sense of unease. I was never a huge K.R.I.T. follower in the first place- his songs were sometimes boring, he vacillated too much between conscious rap and trunk music- but after he systematically destroyed everybody involved with his verse on “1 Train,” it seemed like K.R.I.T. was ready to come into his own. The delay seemed to be representative of prevailing immaturity, another obstacle between the King and his throne.
Thankfully, my worrying proved to be for naught. K.R.I.T. still hasn’t decided whether he wants to play around all the time or not, but he flows the same regardless of whether he’s “Talkin Bout Nothing,” which is perhaps the most immediate, entertaining song on a tape full of high-octane anthems, or waxing poetic about his lifestyle on “Meditate.” Thus, the more serious songs are first identifiable only through their hooks. Perhaps anticipating the passiveness of his audience, K.R.I.T. chastises them with a catcall of “To be real I don’t think you feel me at all.” He’s misunderstood, but maybe it’s because he doesn’t understand himself. After all, the man who claims to be atop the rap game mentions that he “hasn’t even made it yet.”
One could hardly blame his fans for not truly understanding him. His intricate rhymes are delivered at a quick pace, lines and bars blending together under K.R.I.T.’s vexing Southern accent that betrays no pure sense of enunciation. Even after repeated exposure to the material, it’s a bit difficult to understand his lines which is a shame, because his streetwise lyrics are surprisingly poetic. “Bigger Picture” recalls the tenderness of an introspective Slug whereas “Banana Clip Theory” is a first-person account of the rationale behind purchasing a gun and using it to kill laid over a snare drum-based beat interpolated with a woman’s scream, bluesy saxophone and dreary piano. In fact, K.R.I.T. performs at such a high level that no guest stars, not even Bun B, can touch him. If anything, lackluster guest spots like Smoke DZA’s butchered verse and Future’s thoroughly distracting hook drag the tape down if only because they distract from the main attraction.
Perhaps the, to quote the man himself, “miracle” of the tape is that K.R.I. T. handled all production duty, save for the 9th Wonder aided “Life is a Gamble.” This slice of braggadocio is actually old-hat for him, as both of his previous efforts were self-produced as well, and he doesn’t do a lot to expand on his sound. The bass still thumps, ready to rattle any trunk turnt enough to have a subwoofer in it, and K.R.I.T.’s Southern upbringing is palpable through the soul samples and saxophone riffs that seem to pop up on every song. Aside from unconventional samples doubling as hooks, James Blake on “REM,” M83 on “Multi Til the Sun Die,” the arrangements do tend to blend together. Perhaps playing too heavily to his strengths, K.R.I.T. only traffics in beats on which he feels comfortable performing; keeping himself confined to his box when he could be spreading his wings.
King Remembered In Time was an opportunity for Big K.R.I.T. to grow as an artist, but he uses it only to refine himself. It’s not a missed opportunity per se because it’s high quality music, his most consistent release to date and fairly even across the board, but we have to wonder: is this the highest the king can reach? Will he ever ascend to the throne, or is he content to wait in the wings? “1 Train” proved that he has the chops to outperform even the young saviors of hip-hop, but his inconsistent persona is preventing a truly remarkable release.