Big K.R.I.T. celebrates 4EvaNaDay with Smoke DZA, debuts unreleased single.

Written by Eric Diep (@E_Diep)

It was only two years ago that Big K.R.I.T. was met with sneers from a tough New York crowd at Highline Ballroom. The audience booed him when he performed his song “Country Shit,” perhaps because the song spoke too much to his Meridian, Mississippi roots. K.R.I.T.’s dedication to the deep South did not go over well with hip-hop purists at that time. What a difference two years makes.

When K.R.I.T. performed the same song last week at the same venue, it couldn’t have gotten a bigger reception, igniting the crowd into a frenzy. Returning to the Highline last Thursday night (March 8) to celebrate the release of his ninth mixtape 4EvaNaDay, K.R.I.T. found himself among loyal supporters.

4EvaNaDay was well-received by fans for its honest storytelling about an artist’s relationship woes (“Red Eye”), label problems (“Handwriting”), and love for candy slabs (“Me and My Old School.”) The production mirrored that of fellow Southern heavyweights UGK and OutKast—lots of dusty samples and a moody overall soundscape.

After the free mixtape hit the Internet, the #4EvaNaDay hashtag was trending worldwide on Twitter. The tape’s flawless rollout continued with the debut of the Va$htie–directed visual for “Boobie Miles,” which perfectly captured the grind-time practice-or-lose mentality of athletes.

K.R.I.T.’s decision to open the show with “Boobie Miles” was almost a symbolic gesture of his perseverance. “The only difference between a winner and a loser is a winner plays until he wins,” he spit to the sold-out crowd, savoring the irony of the moment. With his partner in rhyme Big Sant hyping up every punchline, and DJ Wally Sparks spinning his biggest hits, K.R.I.T.’s enthusiasm kept rising to the top.

The fans did their part too, their shouts growing louder every time he asked if they were tired. K.R.I.T.’s a dynamic performer; he kept bouncing up and down to every pounding 808 in his beats. With the crowd following suit it was almost too much. “Hold on, shorty. Let’s slow it down just a bit,” K.R.I.T. ordered at one point. “I told you we came to party up on here,” Wally Sparks answered.

K.R.I.T. kept the party going with back-to-back mixtape favorites “R4 Theme Song” and “4EvaNaDay,” picking up the pace with anthems like “1986” and “Touchdown.” Selections from different eras of K.R.I.T.’s catalogue blended together fluently, giving little chance to break his momentum.

He would only pause for the briefest of crowd banter. “This is the portion of the show where I go back a little bit,” he said at one point. “Can I take it back in time?” Cue the driving song “Time Machine.”

With sweat dripping from his face, every punchline he rapped pleased fervent fans. On somber songs like “Moon and the Stars,” he switched into an a capella without the booming backdrop, which proved even more engaging.

“Highs & Lows” received a similar response, morphing into a moment of hand-clapping and prompting K.R.I.T. to get all reflective. “This is a blessing for me to do this,” he said. “It’s been a long journey for me for people to hear my music.”

Turning it up a notch, he surprised fans by bringing out Smoke DZA to perform the potent smoker’s anthem “Gotta Get Paid.” The crowd responded in shouts of “Kushed God!” as DZA gave his daps to K.R.I.T. and left the stage.

Really, K.R.I.T. could have ended the night here, but he continued into one of his personal tracks, “The Vent.” With the house lights dimmed, he asked the crowd for assistance. “Y’all understand I make music for real people. You gotta sing this with me.”

By this point, K.R.I.T. had already expressed his love and appreciation for fans many times over. When performing “Country Shit,” he stage-dived into an ocean of fans, who huddled around him, rapping along to the bass-thumping chorus.

Once he made his way back to the stage, he ran through an unreleased single, tentatively titled “I Got This.” The catchy hook aimed at haters reignited the crowd’s energy. As the crowd chanted for more, K.R.I.T. stood on stage soaking it all in. Damn it feels good to see people up on it.