Big K.R.I.T. is distinguishable in many ways – quality being one of them – but they don’t benefit his bottom line when the production wanes between forgettable and spectacular. It’s not hard to when the spiritual and influential overtones of southern hip-hop charm your ears into your bass-infused beats; however, some of that now beguiles you into reflecting where K.R.I.T. has been heading since surprising his trifecta of EPs in 2018. Throughout these EPs and his subsequent album, he skewers between offering a palette of introspective raps, more introspective raps, and some flex raps. Fortunately, his new album, Digital Roses Don’t Die, offers a cleanse that teeters between good and great. K.R.I.T. isn’t past his “My Sub” series days; he just fails to exemplify his artistic growth with that same bravado that captivated my ears in 2014.
Despite being a slight uptick, from Big K.R.I.T.’s last album K.R.I.T. Iz Here, Digital Roses Don’t Die still sees the Mississippi rapper continuing to drive slightly on auto-pilot. It is an issue that got nudged off because K.R.I.T. was coming off a monstrous effort in 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time, which explored two sides with visceral imagery and production. There is a parallel effort in making something that stands over the previous album as he sands down the rough edges. Interestingly, he does so by weaving four sections that paint the portrait we get for the album cover. K.R.I.T. makes it work, even if he twiddles his thumbs with some flows resonant of the past without an extra push of energy. It continues to push that recent rocky up-down battle with quality, and the album makes it known quickly.
There is no hiding Big K.R.I.T.’s talent. He is one of the few rappers who blends the modern direction of southern hip-hop with the old-soul flair of the loud bass percussion that emboldened the productions of Outkast and UGK. The production side of Digital Roses Don’t Die shines brighter than the lyrical side since K.R.I.T. comes at it mostly solo, allowing for his words to come across more clearly. However, this is where we see K.R.I.T. as an evolving artist and less of someone who continues to rap without a sense of direction. That is potent, especially as K.R.I.T. continues to impress with what he does. It benefits the album that it isn’t as clustered with producers, instead of tightening the work between a few, including himself.
After igniting a modest fire under his first section, some of Big K.R.I.T.’s grounded work comes through, specifically in “Cum Out To Play,” which sees a more sensitive as he sings. It blinded me from remembering some of his mediocre effort on “Show U Right.” It has a slight groove, but it lacks the swagger of “Rhode Clean.” The kind of swagger that oozes off K.R.I.T. is usually unworldly, and like “Rhode Clean,” there are various levels, like on “So Cool,” where a smooth cadence laces the chorus and verses. “All The Time” mirrors it with tempo switches that has a more aggressive demeanor to it. However, there is more to Digital Roses Don’t Die that underlines the swagger. K.R.I.T. is singing more and more on the album, allowing for his emotions to bloom and feel fully formed.
How Big K.R.I.T. weaves these songs together is interesting in concept, as he takes various approaches to base and complex meanings of what surrounds the word. With “Fire (Interlude),” we receive various aspects of igniting flames; unfortunately, the non-flex centric track falters in between the immense swagger. It’s similarly the case with the tracks that follow “Water (Interlude).” In the interlude, Big K.R.I.T. says, “The dude drops a love that watered our passion/The flame dies, the ground moves, the wind blows/But let the positive hydration be our caption,” as it alludes to how we keep memories in a modern age. Each track features some essence of water:
“Boring” sees Big K.R.I.T. watering down the flame from “Show U Right,” and ironically, the water is the fire that ignites higher. K.R.I.T. brings the bravado. K.R.I.T. brings the witty thematic play as he makes being a responsible adult has hyphy as partying and doping.
“Would It Matter” has Big K.R.I.T. watering down expectations but disavowing those expectations as means to say beauty is subjective.
“Generational – weighed down,” sees Big K.R.I.T. tempering his status quo. He is successful with a checkered past and still lamenting about his doubts, like his ability to be a proper parent, knowing his life, and so forth.
It flows the same for other tracks based on the context in the interludes; it has depth, and Big K.R.I.T. is grabbing the bull by the horns, making sure he endures longer than last time. It works the best under Earth, as opposed to others.
Ultimately, Big K.R.I.T. has something here, and it works. He coasts a bit, and it’s slightly evident with songs like “It’s Over Now,” but there are enough quality songs to call this a good album, even though replayability lacks the energy of past albums like Cadillactica. There is no true song in the vein of “My Sub” or “Keep The Devil Off,” off 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time; fortunately, that isn’t a heel turn, and you can readily return to this album – more so if you are a fan of K.R.I.T.