Big K.R.I.T. was already buzzing heavy before he signed his record deal with Def Jam, and on September 27 he will release his major label debut, Live From the Underground. The Mississippi rapper checked in to MTV's RapFix Live from the studio, where he is putting the finishing touches on his album, via Skype.
K.R.I.T., one of MTV Jams' Fab 5, became an underground rap favorite when he released the free mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, which played more like an album, in 2009. The project's soulful rap aesthetic and acclaim earned him a record deal, but the "Country Sh--" rapper is still holding on to his indie roots.
"Man, 'cause I'm still underground at heart," K.R.I.T. told MTV News when asked about his debut's title. "At the end of the day, the type of music that I make, the type of sound I'm trying to create, is definitely being underground and Southern hip-hop. A lot of people didn't know I was signed to Def Jam when I dropped 'Return of 4Eva.' I signed to Def Jam June of last year. So it's been a process of working, grinding, proving myself, and just kind of showing people I'm not going to change just because I'm signed to a major."
"Return of 4Eva" was available for free download, and then Def Jam also dropped an EP of the project for sale on iTunes. Late last year, K.R.I.T. hit the road with Curren$y and Smoke DZA on the Smoker's Club Tour (another tour is planned for this fall, with Method Man headlining). Come September 27, another fellow hip-hop up-and-comer, Roc Nation's J. Cole, is also dropping his proper debut, but K.R.I.T. sees it only as friendly competition.
"End of the day man, I feel like we all got our fanbase and we all just try to make quality music for the sake of hip-hop," K.R.I.T. said. "And we all friends and cool man, so it's just about knowing that your partner is going to put his all into his music and that you should do the same. And at the end of the day, we all meet up, and we're going to do these shows and we're going to tour and we're going to have fun."
K.R.I.T., who appeared on XXL magazine's Freshmen cover with fellow RapFix guest Mac Miller, continued, "It's really all good man. I'm my worst critic so the music is not going to come out unless I feel 100 percent strongly about the content and the subject matter. I'm just going to do my best, brother."
Part of K.R.I.T.'s best includes handling all the production duties on his album and making sure to include social commentary in his lyrics. The 24-year-old plans to tackle topics like the murder of James Craig Anderson, the flooding of the Mississippi River and the tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
"I'm really going to try to touch on all those topics 'cause I feel like sometimes just because we're in Alabama or we're in Mississippi, things happen and people expect it to be cool and OK, they'll get over it," K.R.I.T. said. "But we need help just like everybody else."