Speed Reviews: Cadillactica

This is going to be different than my usual reviews. Please note that this covers the Deluxe Edition of the album, so apologies in advance if it runs long.

As many of you know, Big K.R.I.T. is one of my favorite artists, from an artistic and fan standpoint. Some of the songs that I’ve done over the years, it’d be fair to say that K.R.I.T. inspired me on them, and with good reason. The criminally underrated Mississippi MC has a catalog that’s one of the most consistent I’ve seen. And his latest release, Cadillactica, continues this win-streak and ups the ante. Read the rest of the review after the jump (in other words, after this Spotify link for the album).

Cadillactica, story-wise, picks up where 2012’s Live from the Underground and last year’s King Remembered in Time left off. It amps up the amazement, as K.R.I.T. showcases himself as the creator of the heavens, moons and stars of this bass-heavy, soulful, and introspective galaxy. He also showcases himself as the outsider trying to show others (read: “regular” Earthlings) the amazement he and his fellow Cadillacticans have to offer. Now, if you remember my review of LFTU, you may remember that the album had a bit of a “been there, done that” feeling to it. It was still great, but it didn’t really break any new ground. Cadillactica, from the first track, sheds that notion.

The title track is one of my favorite tracks of the year, but it’s the outro skit that makes the song (especially since it leads into the beautiful “Soul Food,” featuring Raphael Saadiq). Without spoiling too much, K.R.I.T. and his people go to a chicken joint. Said chicken joint is known for a lot of problems in the black community…and biscuits. It’s this honest look at life, albeit a bit parodic, that makes this album worth a listen from the jump. I’ve already shared my thoughts on “Soul Food,” but this song is a must hear. In some ways, it’s a highlight reel of early K.R.I.T. songs. However, it also offers cooking instructions (read: life philosophies and actual instructions on how to keep your food full of soul, both are needed in these days), so if you’re in the need for some country helpings of real life, listen to it and love it.

K.R.I.T.’s versatility is on full display on this album, as we’re taking from the soulful “Soul Food” to a song that could see a lot of twerking happen to it, “Pay Attention” featuring Rico Love. But even with the twerk anthem feel, it has knowledge to it. It’s one of the more honest “stripper-friendly” songs I’ve heard in a while that hasn’t come from Drake, in that it’s not really just about ass and titties; it’s about soul. Let’s just look at the interlude section.

I enjoyed “King of the South,” since it’s a “oh, you didn’t know I run this?” track, something that you don’t get as often from K.R.I.T., especially when he’s being introspective and real-talking and whatnot. I also like the fact that it has a few allusions to “Mt. Olympus.” It’s kind of “just alright” in some ways (the chorus lacks a little bit). But it’s still got the ferociousness needed for an artist taking on the greats.

From “KOTS,” we get the E-40 and Wiz Khalifa-aided “Mind Control.” Simply put, this is that riding through the city music. Also, kudos for K.R.I.T. (and Big Sean, for that matter) for reintroducing 40 to this generation of hip-hop fans. The guy’s a friggin’ legend. Additionally, anytime Wiz and K.R.I.T. collab, you get a track that you need to go and, in the words of the immortal Pimp C, smoke something to and call someone a bitch because it’s smooth.

The memory of Pimp C lives on through many artists.
Big K.R.I.T. is, admittedly, one of my favorites who evokes Pimp.

“Standby,” just like last year’s “WTF,” features K.R.I.T. on his open mic/spoken word tip, which leads nicely into the more mellow “Do You Love Me,” an ode to a old-school–and an old-school ode to the woman in his life. “Third Eye” continues this ode-to-beauty mode. That’s something that I’ve noticed with a lot of K.R.I.T. albums, they’re broken up into acts (that still connect back to each other).

Plus, the track features more of that “Outkast-like” feel. I mean, some early reviews liken this album to Outkast’s ATLiens, and that’s, quite frankly, a valid point. The story is similar, and both albums showcase a style that isn’t exactly mainstream, but still is “comfortably familiar” enough to entice your average listener to give it a chance (this is key for a “classic,” a term that’s overused these days). There’s something for everybody without catering to everybody.

“Mo Better Cool,” featuring frequent collaborators Devin The Dude, Bun B and Big Sant, feels like a revisit of “Return of 4eva” from K.R.I.T.’s KRIT wuz Here with a bit of “Moon and Stars” mixed in. In other words, it’s that “old K.R.I.T.” sound for those that stopped listening to anything since KWH since it was just that dope (As an aside, be sure to check out last year’s The Great American Mattress Sale if you’re looking for more Big Sant. It’s a great entry point).

“Angels” proposes a real-talk question: “Do angels get high and miss some of the fuckery that’s going on down on Earth?” K.R.I.T. speaks on 2012, Katrina, and few other tragedies in our time. It’s a reflective song that legitimately questions religious status quo without being being blasphemous, a line that can be pretty tricky to tread. “Saturdays = Celebration” continues the “contemplative K.R.I.T. arc.” Featuring Jamie N Commons and co-production from Alex Da Kid (“Love The Way You Lie,” etc.), this track stands as another must-hear on the album. It takes every element of K.R.I.T., combines it into a four-minute soul-bearing session and just lays it out there.

Now, I’ll be honest. When I heard Lupe Fiasco would feature on Cadillactica, I was both excited and scared, mainly because I was unsure which Lupe we’d get. Would we get the “overly-prechy elitist” Lupe or just “regular dope lyricist with real lessons” Lupe? I can say that the end result, “Lost Generation,” song gives us the latter. This, obviously, will never be a radio single (which they both acknowledge), but it’s still a great track. Lupe doesn’t preach, he just goes in. When we combine that with some of his more-recent releases (“Pu$$Y,” the cancer songs, etc.), it’s got me excited for Tetsuo and Youth–and excited for Lupe Fiasco music again. He seems a lot less hemmed up and held up on testifying about stuff, and more focused on just doing what he wants/needs to do in music and life in general; it’s refreshing.

So, in other words, Big K.R.I.T. and Lupe Fiasco firing on all cylinders on a track is something that can’t be fucked with, plain and simple.

From here, we’re given the reprise of Mt. Olympus. It’s a lot more “epic-sounding,” but it kind of was unneeded (since the first version was amazing on its own) EDIT: Apparently the original had sample issues (must’ve been the Gladiator sample), so it makes sense to have it here in its reprise form. Perhaps it’s a comment on many of the unneeded remixes rappers put out, maybe it’s just a “hey, don’t forget the true anti-‘Control'” inclusion. We’re also given “Lac Lac,” the A$AP Ferg-aided track from the Week of K.R.I.T. releases earlier this year. I don’t have much to say about the track, except it’s a decent addition to close out the album.

K.R.I.T. begins the album with a lyric: “let’s make good on these promises and be perfect.” This is said as K.R.I.T. is “creating” Cadillactica. And this album strives its hardest to, well, make good on that promise. And, about 99.1% of the time, it does so (the other .9% goes for the somewhat unneeded reprise of “Mt. Olympus”). It’s got something for everyone, without conforming to anyone. And that is that beauty of visiting Cadillactica.

TL;DR: Cadillactica is quite possibly the album of the year and has the potential to be a classic album in the long run. It is fair to compare it to ATLiens, but it still carves its own lane to avoid being just a “copy.” Listen to the title track, “Soul Food,” “Saturdays = Celebration,” “Lost Generation,” and “Do You Love Me.” The only tracks I’d recommend skipping are “Mt. Olympus” and “Lac Lac.” That’s only because you’ve probably heard them before. However, K.R.I.T.’s lyrical assault in “Mt. Olympus” never gets old.

Speed on the Beat

Whatever you need to know about me, you can find out on speedonthebeat.com. Dad of two, cat dad (of two), mental health advocate, Team Support Dope Music in All Its Forms.

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