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Rittz – The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant album review

After much ado, Georgia rapper Rittz announces himself with a highly foreshadowed debut album, The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant. Since aligning himself Yelawolf’s independent label Slumerica, Rittz has dropped several singles and a lengthy mixtape (White Jesus: Revival) as a run-up to up this debut release. Now, turning to Tech N9ne’s Strange Music imprint, Rittz’s brand of dirty south hip hop hits the big scene.

The debut effort from Rittz is unlikely to disappoint his fans, touting consistent production values and Rittz’s signature rapid-fire rhymes, but it might not so easily win over a casual listener. What limits this album’s appeal is a number of thematic contradictions. And although it’s an extremely polished product, the music just doesn’t make the right kind of impact for an MC’s debut.

As far as the overall sound experience of the album, it sounds really crisp. Rittz’s vocals always come through loud and clear, showcasing the rapper’s blazing fast choppity-chop rapping style. Rittz’s fast but not hurried delivery dices up an inky black backdrop of clean bass tones and tight synths. His rapping competes with the speed and precision of double-time kicks and tick-tick snares. I have to be honest though, I felt the slickness of the tracks losing luster pretty early in the album. Maybe it was the straight up sex jam “Sober,” but I couldn’t help but imagine some of these songs playing out in a beat up after-hours strip club.

Three quarters of the way through the hour-long album, Rittz’s machine gun flow started to wear me down as well. I found myself practically begging for featured artists to come in and break up some of the monotony. While I usually respect the sparing use of features on a solo album, especially a debut, I wish Rittz had given up the mic a little more often. The guest verses from MCs like Tech N9ne, Yelawolf and Big K.R.I.T., are a much-needed change of pace on Jonny Valiant.

His flow aside, Rittz is at his lyrical best when he keeps it strictly personal, like in the song “Interview.” Here he faces down skeptics, critics, and public interrogation in the form of rapped responses to a fictional interview. However Rittz stumbles when the focus becomes less individual and he resorts to glorifying excessive lifestyles filled with drugs, booze and sexual exploits (see: “Sober”). To further complicate things, Rittz seems very determined to remind the listener of his no-nonsense ethos with songs like “Fuck Swag,” and “For Real.”

Ultimately, I couldn’t fully get over these missteps. An MCs debut album is a rite of passage that should make an unmistakable statement representing the sum of everything in the artists life that went into the creation of the album. Not only is Rittz’s statement a little contradictory, the album fails to create a lasting impact musically. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an unbelievably consistent effort from an MC in a debut, and it could probably serve as a great soundtrack for your next drugged driving excursion. Unfortunately, the punch that The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant packs will wear off a lot quicker than the buzz you’re catching to it.

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Big K.R.I.T. – King Remembered In Time mixtape review

A squealing guitar riff and crying baby are the first things you hear on the newest release from Meridian, Mississippi based rapper Big K.R.I.T. To call K.R.I.T. a rapper however is radically understating his widely varied talents. Of the 17 tracks on the album, only one track is produced by 9th Wonder (who has also produced for Kendrick Lamar, Murs, Drake and Ludacris recently to name a few), with the rest of the production being handled by K.R.I.T. himself. King Remembered In Time, also what K.R.I.T. stands for, is the title of the sixth mixtape K.R.I.T. has recorded in addition to his studio album that was released last year and gives listeners another soul soaked record filled with lush beats and introspective rhymes from the Def Jam signed MC.

As the tape begins K.R.I.T. tells us of his blue collar upbringing in Meridian and details to us his modus operandi on his search for purpose, also the title of the track. This is followed by “Shine On,” the first single featuring Bun B and while K.R.I.T. delivers a solid verse, Bun B steals the show with a flow sounding like it came fresh off Ridin’ Dirty, the timeless UGK album. It is two tracks later that the tape truly finds its step with standout track “King Without A Crown”, recalling earlier K.R.I.T. songs with a high wailing soul sample and thumping Southern bass notes sure to vibrate speakers from Mississippi to New York. This is followed by a James Blake sampling track called “REM” which showcases the unique introspective rhymes which characterizes K.R.I.T.’s independent releases, in addition to the soulful Southern beats that serve as the primary backdrop to said rhymes. Other stand out tracks include the symphonic “WTF” where K.R.I.T. gives us a glimpse into a life where “Perhaps you got some work/I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout nine to five, more like/soak and drive, baking soda powder pies” and “Multi Till The Sun Die”, an arena rock M83 sampling close to the tape in which KRIT not only shows us why he is one of the top young MC’s in the game but also can begin to stake a legitimate claim to the title of best producer in the game as well. Elsewhere on the tape Future, Wiz Khalifa, Smoke DZA and Trinidad James are featured artists, each adding their own unique flair to the tape and with K.R.I.T.’s production, even the worst verses sound outstanding.

In addition to almost single-handedly revitalizing the Southern rap genre, Big KRIT shows listeners the kind of rap that they deserve, rather than what most are exposed to on a daily basis. You can stream the entire mixtape King Remembered In Time at here.

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Press Releases

Bonnaroo 2013 Festival Scheduled Line-up

Definitely favouring a more urban feel than previous years, Bonnaroo 2013 is definitely seeming to be one of the year’s most appealing festivals. Manchester, Tennessee is now used to putting on the prestigious festival event, with the White Castle in Murfreesboro being amongst the best staff to advice you about the various precautions to take in planning your trip. Buy your tickets today when they’re first released to the public, as I’d be extremely surprised if they didn’t sell out.

Click here to purchase Bonnaroo 2013 tickets.

Some of the Hip Hop/Electronica highlights at the 2013 Bonnaroo include:

Wu-Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, R. Kelly, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, A$AP Rocky, Porter Robinson, A-Trak, Earl Sweatshirt, Big K.R.I.T., AraabMUZIK, Action Bronson

And lets not ignore the other performers of other genres, hardly to be sneezed at:

Paul McCartney,
Mumford & Sons,
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers,
Björk,
Wilco,
Pretty Lights,
Daniel Tosh,
The National,
The Lumineers,
David Byrne & St. Vincent,
Passion Pit,
The xx,
Grizzly Bear,
Animal Collective,
Of Monsters and Men,
ZZ Top,
Beach House,
Cat Power,
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes,
Jim James,
“Weird Al” Yankovic,
Tame Impala,
SUPERJAMS:
Soul SuperJam ft. Jim James with John Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste (of the Meters), Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more TBA!,
Ed Helms Bluegrass Situation Superjam with special guests
Boys Noize,
Glen Hansard,
Gov’t Mule,
Gaslight Anthem,
Portugal. The Man,
Wolfgang Gartner,
Billy Idol,
Sam Bush & Del McCoury,
Dwight Yoakam,
Foals,
Local Natives,
Matt & Kim,
Dirty Projectors,
Trombone Shorty,
John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension,
Noam Pikelny & Friends,
Amadou & Mariam,
Alt-J,
Father John Misty,
Baroness,
The Tallest Man On Earth,
Walk The Moon,
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
The Vaccines,
Paper Diamond,
Holy Ghost!,
Divine Fits,
Mike Birbiglia,
Purity Ring,
Swans,
Frank Turner,
Allen Stone,
Cults,
Lee Fields & The Expressions,
Fatoumata Diawara,
Two Gallants,
The Sheepdogs,
Four Tet,
Calexico,
Japandroids,
Death Grips,
Conspirator,
Wild Nothing,
John Fullbright,
Django Django,
HAIM,
Killer Mike,
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti,
Clockwork,
twenty | one | pilots,
Reptar,
DIIV,
Milo Greene,
Lord Huron,
Futurebirds,
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit,
Charli XCX,
JEFF The Brotherhood,
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors,
Sea Wolf,
JD McPherson,
Trixie Whitley,
Deap Vally,
Patrick Watson,
Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers,
The Stepkids,
Aoife O’Donovan,
Bombino,
Bernhoft,
Matthew E. White

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Press Releases

Big K.R.I.T. – Live From The Underground album review

For avid hip-hop fans, Big K.R.I.T. had arrived long ago; showcasing his soulful skills on independently released mixtapes like 2010’s “KRIT Wuz Here” and this spring’s “4eva And A Day”.  For the rest of us, K.R.I.T.’s debut album “Live From The Underground” is a brief introduction to the Mississippi native who slings laid-back verses over Southern blues infused beats.  While the rapper may have signed to Def Jam, “Live from the Underground” stays true to its anti-mainstream roots as K.R.I.T.’s everyman-appeal and modesty shines throughout the album.

Produced entirely by K.R.I.T. himself, “Live from the Underground” is as introspective as a rap album will get.  With a thick layer of blues guitars, expressive horns and hooks from the likes of B.B. King, K.R.I.T. paints a picture of everyday struggle while modestly pushing through hardships.  The artist takes risks venturing off into a multitude of subgenres and coming out unscathed: West Coast G-funk synth lines displayed on “Money On The Floor” and “Don’t Let Me Down”, lazy reggae chords on “Pull Up” feat. Bun B and Big Sant, and Southern R&B-tinged gospel vibes on “Cool 2 Be Southern” and “If I Fall.”

K.R.I.T. really excels, however, when he rhymes over soulful, bluesy beats.

The album’s standout track, “Praying Man”, featuring the blues legend B.B. King, delivers a powerful image of slavery and oppression.  K.R.I.T. flexes his storytelling abilities here as each verse involves a black person being saved from his oppressor by the elusive “Praying Man”: “And I been wounded for some miles, so I decided to rest my head, I guess they let me go cause they assumed that I was dead, Smiled and said ‘Son hop in this wagon and get settled’, He offered me a ride and drove me far away from my oppressor, forever “

If there is anything to negate K.R.I.T.’s socially conscious efforts, it’s the jadedness found in his voice.  Usually void of real emotion, K.R.I.T. speaks as if he’ll take no pity or joy.  That’s easily forgivable though based on the harsh realties he raps about.  Plus, his self-produced beats bring enough emotion to the table that calling him on his verbal tone would be faulty.  “Live From The Underground” may not be new or perfect to some but is an honest and genuine stepping stone for an artist on his way to something big.  K.R.I.T. stands for King Remembered In Time and only time will tell where the big man takes his conscious efforts.

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Reviews

Big K.R.I.T – Last King 2: God’s Machine review

Big K.R.I.T has been getting quite a buzz over the past year or so. Appearing on the BET Hip Hop Awards, being nominated for 3 awards including Mixtape of the Year. With his major label debut to come out very soon, K.R.I.T has a lot going for him. Sadly, his newsiest release, the mixtape Last Kink 2: God’s Machine fails to impress. It falls short of expectations, and unfortunately doesn’t deliver.
Last King 2 offers many collaborations, but no substance. A lot of the tracks are repetitive, odd, and sometimes really hard to listen to. The Hip-Hop/Rap genres are getting very stale, and its sad with K.R.I.T’s reputation and talent that he fails to really the listener to bump their head in enjoyment.

However, there are a few enjoyable tracks that were okay and have some replay value.  “Pimps” Remix featuring 2 Chainz & Bun B was one standout on the record. The production on this track was great. Old soul guitar and horn sections in the track are what makes the song listenable. Being a fool for great production, this track was one of the few standouts on the record. Also. “Born on the Block” featuring Killer Mike & Big Sid mix rock riffs and hip hop drums that get you bumping the track loud and bobbing your head. It was a very enjoyable track off a record that didn’t offer anything else like it.

A lot of the production just seems very plain and besides the two stand outs, the music just doesn’t have that factor that gets you talking. Sounds like a bunch of loops were put together fast, and the unnecessary guest spot. Maybe this was just put together to keep the fans hooked till the major label debut comes out? It really doesn’t do a good job keeping someone hooked, rather just gives the listener another underachieving mix tape to just forget.

Last King 2 can be described many different ways, but nothing good will be said. It’s not terrible but its nothing to talk to speak big about. Lets hope that Live From the Underground brings the heat.