For the past decade, he’s been one of the most-consistent (albeit criminally overlooked) artists to come out. He’s put out enough work, production-wise and lyrically, to sleep many of your favorite rappers and producers. But, one track stands out among the crowd for me as his best.
Yes, I’ve talked about this track numerous times on SpeedontheBeat.com, my Instagram feed, and my Twitter feed. You probably know how it helped me process my mother’s death. You may have even seen me say that it helped inspire several of my own tracks. However, removing those aspects from it, it stands out as K.R.I.T.’s best because of its mix of storytelling and poignant lyricism.
You could argue for something like “Mt. Olympus” being his best track,. I wouldn’t be mad at you, as it was the only “Control” response that one-upped the original verse (sure, Los’s version was #bars galore, but “Mt. Olympus” took a very humble dude and turned him into a fire-breathing dragon who torched the playing field). You could even make an argument for songs such as “King Without a Crown,” “It’s Better This Way,” “Multi ‘Til The Sun Die,” or “Big K.R.I.T.” And, if you did, I could definitely see where you’re coming from. Those are all incredible examples of what makes K.R.I.T. an incredible talent However, to me, I still hold “The Vent” over everything else.
It’s a minimal, almost simple, track, sonically speaking. K.R.I.T. opted to have “The Vent” made up of an organ and synth-heavy melody and an early-2010s rap drum pattern (think Boi-1da and 40 on Take Care). It’s definitely not one of K.R.I.T.’s most-grandiose beats. It’s that simplicity which makes it perfect for a soul-bearing experience. It’s reminiscent of another classic Southern-centric rap staple, Outkast’s “13th Floor/Growing Old” in that regard. It lays the groundwork for what was to come from Big K.R.I.T., an evolution in his already-solid storytelling abilities, bigger focus on the soul of the music he’d put out above all else, and heavy spiritual themes without becoming preachy and inaccessible.
On K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, we had storytelling as well (songs like “They Got Us” and “Something” come to mind). With “The Vent,” however, listeners get more introspection and a deeper look into what made Justin Scott who he was outside of the Big K.R.I.T. persona. We hear more about how his spirituality and religion influenced him, how his grandmother’s death had a major effect on him, and how he–even back then–knew his music would be used therapeutically. It’s a great example of, as mentioned before, a soul-bearing experience, even asking the late Kurt Cobain why he chose to kill himself (a question, as a fan of Cobain, I still ask myself).
“A mother lost her child, I tried to ease the pain” remains one of the most gut-punch opening lines I’ve heard. K.R.I.T. and the mother both accept that it was God’s will. However, there’s still that heavy sense of grief and a need for growth and acceptance lingering over it and the entire song. Those elements paint the road the rest of the song travels on. Through life comes death, and through death comes life, but how we deal with those inevitabilities will help us grow as people.
On top of that, people sometimes just need to let things off their chest and “The Vent,” in its freeform approach, is a shining example of that.