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Big K.R.I.T. Biography

Last updated: 07/31/2012 04:18:04 PM

It is rare to find an artist who has both age and wisdom on his side. At just 24 years-old, Big K.R.I.T. possesses the musical intuition of an old soul. Hailing from Meridian, Mississippi, K.R.I.T. (born Justin Scott) grew up listening to early rhythm and blues records in his Grandmother’s house and later went on to discover songs by revered soul artists like Curtis Mayfield, Willie Hutch and Bobby Womack. It’s easy to detect these artists and rap legends who have influenced the young MC like 8Ball & MJG, UGK, Scarface and OutKast in K.R.I.T.’s own music which masterfully resurrects the rich heritage of Southern hip-hop in the 1990’s.

“I’m reintroducing a type of sound from the South that a lot of the newer generation doesn’t know about and reminding the older generation of what Southern hip-hop used to sound like,” explains K.R.I.T., whose stage name is an acronym for King Remembered In Time. “I was influenced by the third coast as far as Texas, Tennessee, and Atlanta so I was really trying to put all those sounds that I grew up listening to together to make a sound for myself.”

Big K.R.I.T. is the sole producer of his Cinematic/Def Jam Records debut album, Live From The Underground which serves as a testament to his multifaceted musical talent and overall artistic vision. His major label debut is being released on the heels of two critically acclaimed independent releases, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) and returnof4eva (2011) which featured Ludacris, David Banner and Bun B. In addition to receiving starred reviews from Pitchfork and Complex, K.R.I.T.’s growing popularity earned him a spot on the cover of XXL’s Freshman cover in February of 2011 placing him amongst the industry’s most promising newcomers.

“I feel like it’s extremely important that people get to know me on a personal level through my music,” says K.R.I.T. “This is my canvas, it’s my art and I’m really trying to paint pictures the way I see them. I’m creating compositions and not relying so much on 808s and snares. I’m really trying to make timeless music.”

Big K.R.I.T. grew up in a deeply spiritual family and spent a lot of the time in church as a child listening to sermons and occasionally performing in the choir. He started to write poetry and when he turned 14, he started writing lyrics and using his PC to record his first rap songs. “I used to play music out of my computer and rap into the microphone that was connected to a tape recorder,” remembers K.R.I.T. “It was like the most bootleg karaoke machine you could find. I went from doing that to actually trying to get in the studio. It didn’t become super serious until I started making beats and rapping which was around 2000. That’s when I really started to record and drop projects.”

Recording at the time under the name Kritikal, K.R.I.T. changed his name after graduating from high school and moving to Atlanta to pursue a career in hip-hop. He had some minor success as a producer and was able to sell some of his beats, but unfortunately it would be another couple of years until he was able to actually survive off his musical talent alone.

“I wasn’t really making money it was really difficult to survive,” says K.R.I.T. “My phone was shut off and I could only receive calls and one day I was walking down the street with some Ramen noodles and I was like man, I’m finna go back home and work on the railroad. Then, at the end of 2009, Jonny Shipes called me and he offered to work with me for six months with no paperwork.”

Shipes, whose company Cinematic Music is based in New York City, got straight to work with K.R.I.T. and within two months, the burgeoning rapper was able to record and release a series of songs and videos that caught the attention of major label A&Rs. Def Jam’s Sha Money XL, who is responsible for managing the careers of 50 Cent and the G-Unit Records roster, expressed a strong interest in Big K.R.I.T. In the spring of 2010, Sha Money signed the Mississippi MC to Def Jam. “Sha reached out because he heard all of the buzz and the music,” says K.R.I.T. “He definitely believed in me and wanted to be part of our movement. We chopped it up and really figured out the best way for me to stay organic and be myself as an artist.”

In May of 2010, just a month after signing with Def Jam, K.R.I.T. dropped Krit Wuz Here which lead to stints opening up for Wiz Khalifa on the Wake & Bake Tour and co-headlining The Smokers Club Tour with Curren$y. In March of this year, K.R.I.T. released his most downloaded project to date, returnof4eva which he recorded as an homage to the type of music he grew up listening to. “Returnof4eva was me being more country, more Southern, more gritty,” he says. “I really wanted to showcase that I could go back into the studio after signing the deal and drop music that was cohesive. I think a lot of people thought Krit Wuz Here was a fluke, so returnof4eva was my way of building up confidence in my supporters and getting them to go out and buy my album.”

With his first studio album, Live From The Underground, K.R.I.T. stays true to his winning formula. He does so by producing a collection of records that continues to build on the musical history of the South, while simultaneously showcasing his personal beliefs and background in an honest and open way. K.R.I.T. also called upon some of hip-hop and r&b’s heavyweights to bless the album including Anthony Hamilton, Big Boi, Melanie Fiona, Bun B, and 8ball & MJG. The wide-range of collaborations add bass, but also the soulful-harmony that give Live From The Underground its dynamic and exciting feel.

“I’m really taking people in-depth about my relationships and the morals I gained from my Grandmother,” he says. “I go out and do shows and see the type of impact my songs have so it’s important that I say something positive, something relatable. I’m going to touch on a lot of different topics, there will be a lot of uplifting music on there and a lot of music that inspires people to do more right than wrong.”
Confident with where he is as a man and an artist, Big K.R.I.T. is dedicated to creating songs for fans of the music he grew up loving. “I’m forever underground,” he says. “Underground for me is about being more for the people. I’m comfortable with where I’m at in my life and the music that I make. With this album, I really sat down as a producer and as an artist and constructed the best beats possible and came up with the best content possible. It just happens to be underground.”

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Imagine Kanye West being born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi. Now imagine him being produced by Organized Noize. That imagery would create music almost identical to the Crooked Letter state's next hip-hop heavyweight, Big K.R.IT (King remembered in time). The 24-year-old rapper slash producer defied the odds of both his personal life and hip-hop's current landscape to be the most in-demand and respected rookie on the Cinematic Music Group/Def Jam Records roster.

Rapping since twelve-years-old and producing from age 14, KRIT personifies the term Student of the Game. Being a product of one of the smallest cities below the Mason Dixon line the young MC didn't have the financial means required to purchase tracks and studio time. So K.R.I.T took a much more economical approach and began mastering the MTV Music Generator on his Playstation. Wanting to elevate his sonic craft he then studied local friends who were a bit more advanced in certain areas of production, or sit for hours and watch an engineer homie mix a song.

On the lyrical side, Big K.R.I.T kept an ear bent to the cadence and profound pronunciation of great orators like the Notorious B.I.G, Tupac and Pimp C. The Mississippi eagle also bathed in the classic compositions of legendary teams like OutKast and 8ball and MJG. "These guys influenced me because they rapped about what they knew about and they kept it 100," says K.R.I.T. "Even like an Organized Noize––they stayed true to what they did and branded a sound. So they influenced me to stay true to myself and rap about what I know about."

Instead of making the mistake many a young artist in search of an identity commit––becoming a Xerox copy of their influences–– K.R.I.T developed his own sound. That he was raised on his parents' soul music (Bobby Womack, Willie Hutch) explains why his production comes rich with rolling percussion, smooth yet potent baselines and keys that are sugar cane sweet. It's homemade molasses in stereo.

With a perfect self-produced score as the backdrop, K.R.I.T uses a fluid and personable flow to captivatingly give his own Merridian, Mississippi narrative, complete with entertaining quips, steely confidence and food for thought. During a time when southern MCs succeed by hanging their hat on their drug dealing history or street lord affiliation, whether authentic or fictitious, K.R.I.T.'s true-to-self approach is a courageous one. "People wanna hear relatable music––something not so far from their every day," he says, before adding. "A lot of times people get caught up in making a hit and it isn't timeless because it doesn't serve a purpose. If I have a voice and the opportunity to speak to millions of people I at least have to say something important."

The Big K.R.I.T. formula was not only pure it was undeniable. His underground ascendance began in 2005 when an Atlanta DJ placed his song "We Gon' Hate" on their mixtape without request. Feeling validated K.R.I.T decided to put 100% into upgrading his music dreams to reality. The next year he would drop out of Meridian Community College and move to Atlanta. In the peach state, K.R.I.T. would get a crash course in industry biz. Whether it was selling discounted beats to local artists, engineering their sessions and/or mixing their songs–––being that he was talented at more than just beat making––K.R.I.T did it to make ends meet.

After a few years of releasing underground music K.R.I.T.'s music started to catch peoples attention, allowing him to entertain the countless music execs and managers who expressed interest in him throughout his years in Atlanta's underground. One of those interested was Jon "Shipes" Shapiro, head of Cinematic Music Group (Sean Kingston, Nipsey Hussle). The two agreed on a deal in January 2010 and set forth to turn B.K into the next hip-hop superstar. According to Shipes K.R.I.T.'s palpability makes his market potential a no-brainer: "In real life he's just a kid from a small town whose music is phenomenal."

K.R.I.T. then went to work on his Cinematic Music Group debut, the street album K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. The underground opus that birthed gems like the trunk rattler "Country Shit," poignant "Children of The World" and irresistible Devin The Dude assisted "Moon & Stars" snatched the attention of many hip-hop heads; none more important than former 50 Cent manager and G-Unit Records President Sha Money XL. Upon receiving an early preview of K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Sha was "blown away." So once the veteran exec landed a position at Def Jam as Senior VP of A&R last April he made sure his first signee was K.R.I.T. Though at the time the Mississippi gem's John Hancock was also being sought aggressively by other labels, K.R.I.T. chose the exec with the most enthusiasm for his music. "Sha just kept saying ‘I love this! I believe in it,'" tells K.R.I.T. "He was just so adamant about it."

Now, the rap game has received a breath of country fresh air: an artist that insists on remaining an individual and feeding his growing audience with feel-good rhythms and "rhymes with morals." Big K.R.I.T. is in fact The Truth. Within a month of acquiring his deal he was not only critically acclaimed and courted for interviews by media giants like XXL, The Source, and, he gained fans in his own peer group––from buzzing newbies (Wiz Khalifa, Currensy and Smoke Dza) to living legends (Ludacris, Bun B). Today whether its hip-hop lovers in the skyscraping offices of Def Jam or those in the small town of Meridian, MS, they're all feeling the synergy being churned by the birth of rap's next royalty. So until Mr. King Remembered In Time releases his 2011 Def Jam debut all hip-hop can do is witness a reign on the rise.