After Cadillactica (sorry I never got around to reviewing that, but it’s mostly great), I’m settling into a groove with K.R.I.T. With each release, I enjoy the hell out of the songs about simple stuff like sex and cars, but I can’t be bothered with some of his more meaningful songs. Case in point, I’m really struggling with how to rate his latest mixtape, It’s Better This Way. It’s definitely not bad, but is it outstanding?
There’s plenty of fun to be had here, and it’s conveniently front-loaded on this tape. The best songs of this ilk are 86, a car anthem about Monte Carlos, and Piece on Chain, about flossing and strippers. Their bluesy swing and energy are infectious, but the mix is weird to me. The instrumentals’ mid-range feels severely dampened, and that hurt their initial appeal but I found my way through it. But he’s spitting on these songs! Here’s the opening 4 bars of 86:
crooked like there he go again, talking bout that candy paint, slappin out, workin wheel in the daytime/
the cymbal for the trap, hi-hats, and the clap, bit’, what cha know about that bassline?/
big boomin system leave a hater crip’, with the backseat of the car, like a falling star/
all these screens and light, I could charge at night, and ladies drink for free, when they at the bar/
And then there are the songs that kill the previously earned high. In The Darkness actually has an interesting beat, but the lazy singing and simple verse where K.R.I.T. decides to lay down with a women he shouldn’t totally bored me. Vanilla Sky is even worse, sounding like a rejected D’Angelo song but with K.R.I.T.’s basic verses replacing the singer’s soulful singing. These songs aren’t terrible, just too sleepy for me. The verses take on a spoken word style that I hate outside of a few Outkast songs, and the beats are too slow to compel me.
But It’s Better This Way does have many songs that say something in a better way. King Pt. 4‘s beat does nothing for me but K.R.I.T.’s fiery verse more than makes up for it. No one is safe, including Def Jam and their lack of investment in his music, and the ignorant fools who misjudge The South based on stereotypes. Better still is Got Me Thru, about the come-up as a rapper and featuring a typically smashing Big Sant verse, and It’s Better This Way, about the radio’s tired music selection and K.R.I.T.’s hard path to success without help from a famous cosign or a friend already in the industry.
Looking at the above, it’s now easy to discern what my overall thoughts on this release are. It’s Better This Way is a great mixtape, only slightly marred by a couple of poorly paced songs. Not that everything else is earth-shattering, but it’s all extremely solid with a few really high points. In fact, I like this better than Cadillactica. Maybe that’s because more of these beats are from K.R.I.T. himself? Anyway, let me be the 80-billionth person to observe that K.R.I.T. makes music that could easily work on the radio, and is in fact better than what’s on the radio but still catchy as hell, yet he seems to receive no love on the airwaves. Sounds like Def Jam really is fucking up…
- Piece on Chain
- Got Me Thru ft DeLorean and Big Sant
- It’s Better This Way