(Photo: Def Jam)
Back in 2005, when Big K.R.I.T. dropped his first installment of the See Me On Top mixtape series, the Mississippi-born MC was a relative unknown. Almost ten years later, K.R.I.T. has established himself as one of the most respected artists and producers in the game.
See Me On Top 4 is a carefully crafted blend of Southern sounds with the occasional West Coast tinge. The 28-year-old MC came out spitting venom towards his haters and those in the industry that continue to sleep on his skills on songs like “Somethin’ Right” and “Mt Olympus.” The mid- to uptempo beats helped make even his vitriol seem [almost] like a feel good track.
“I knew you lame when you was in school with a little fame, you ain’t used to it/It was easy for you to move through, leave class with your thesaurus/Like one of these days I’m gonna be a rapper but all my friends gonna be poor/so I’ma take all these Southern artists that mainstream ain’t never heard of/Recycle all they lingo and make sure I screw my words up/Bravo for your swaggerjackin’, I’m overwhelmed by your dedication/You act a fool and people into thinking that your music was innovative/Frustrating, battle rapping never got me out of no public housing/You tellin’ me that I can be king of hip hop and they wouldn’t give it to André 3000, n---a please,” rapped K.R.I.T.
The mixtape kept a consistent tone of confidence, hunger and self-assurance, even when the fiery MC was spitting over someone else’s track, like Drake's “Believe Me (Freestyle),” Slim Thug's “Just Chill” or Rick Ross’s “Supreme.”
Production-wise, K.R.I.T. showed how much his skills have sharpened, too. He lace tracks like the driving anthems “Riding Low” and and the percussion-heavy “Shook Up” with some of that classic Houston sound while also coming with more soulful tracks like “Creep Up” and the DJ Funky-assisted “Sunshine.”
As far as lyrical content, K.R.I.T. shined brightest on the more introspective tracks like “Smoke And Mirrors” and “What’s Next,” the latter of which was one of the high points of See Me On Top 4 and saw K.R.I.T. painting a “Brenda’s Got a Baby”-esque picture of the challenges young ladies face being raised in a loveless environment.
“My homegirl hit me one time, she 'bout to sell her body for change/Ain’t much I could say to her, I guess that’s just a part of the game/It’s more to life than fly bags, it’s more to life than diamonds and pearls/But when you raised without a father and your mother never bothered, it’s hard to stay a little girl./She caught up in the whirlwind of stage light/She’ll do anything you askin’ if the pay’s right/Did her lover with no rubber 'cause he claimed that he was clean/Now she know what havin' AIDS like.
See Me On Top 4 serves as the perfect summation of who K.R.I.T. is: a versatile MC that can go deep or turn up, all while making the listener move. Even with A-list features like Juicy J (“Drinker’s Club”) Yo Gotti (“Something Right”) and Ross (“New Agenda” and “Supreme”), K.R.I.T was never outdone on a song.
With 22 tracks, the mixtape probably could have done without songs like the solid but brief introductory snippet of “Pay Attention” and the Lloyd-assisted booty call track “On Call,” but overall See Me On Top 4 was one of those rare gems that could satisfy both the underground as well as the mainstream.
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