Big K.R.I.T. Steps Into The Mainstream.
In what has become a near-weekly occurrence of late, Trees will once again play host to a capacity crowd this weekend thanks to a high-profile performance from rising southern rap star Big K.R.I.T. on Saturday. Credit 22-year-old Sascha Guttfreund and his ScoreMore brand for that: The company continuously brings some of the biggest up-and-coming names in hip-hop to the room, and, in the process, the venue once known for hosting the Corrosion of Conformity's of the world has officially laid its claim as the go-to spot for the hottest hip-hop shows in town. With K.R.I.T. coming to town this weekend, the ScoreMore formula to success — booking talent that's about to blow — will once again be shown off for all to see.
K.R.I.T., who has been self-releasing mixtapes at a furious pace the last few years and has attracted guest appearances by David Banner, Bun B, and Ludacris in the process, has recently started gaining traction on commercial radio with songs like “Country Shit” and “Hometown Hero” — and all before his major label debut, Live From the Underground, has even been released.
When we spoke with K.R.I.T. in anticipation of his performance this week, he dished on making the transition to becoming a major label artist, gave some love to ScoreMore's Guttfreund, and told us point blank why he loves performing in Dallas.
Now that you're starting to get some radio play, how do you feel about transitioning from a mixtape artist into more of a mainstream one?
It's great. I definitely wasn't making music per se to be on the radio, but it's always cool when you can music to the ears of the people and also get played. I always wanted to be organic. That way, people are hearing about it and picking it up for themselves. It definitely wasn't to get records like “Money on the Floor” or “Country Shit” on the radio. Those are just records that really reflect who I am.
Sascha Guttfreund, the man behind ScoreMore productions, booked this show. He's already become well-known as one of the best hip-hop promoters in Texas at just age 22. What makes this kid so special?
Sascha, man, he's just on it. He definitely understands the music, and he's willing to get artists that are on the cusp, that are poppin', and he's seeing that early. He definitely strikes while the iron is hot and builds relationships. It's always dope when you can meet a promoter and he's actually a cool person and y'all can talk about music. At the same time, he's out there promoting, making sure the shows are fire and everything's top notch.
More and more, the best hip-hop shows in town are being booked at Trees, a venue that is traditionally known for being more of a metal club. You've played there before. What are your thoughts on the venue, and why are you excited to play there again?
The first time I came through with Return of 4Eva, it was crazy. It was exciting to see how many people turned out for it, especially since the actual music was only 15 or 16 days old. It was just the sound quality and the excitement of the people — and the trees! Man, it was organic. I'm excited to go back because I heard they redid some of the sound in there. Kendrick [Lamar] just left, and I heard that show was crazy. Yelawolf just left, too. So, I'm just excited to fill it out.
Why is it important for a producer to know how to rap and vice versa? Why aren't more people learning how to do both?
When I started producing, it was because I couldn't afford beats. That was back in 1999. I was always in band and had a good understanding of music and what it was supposed to sound like, and the kind of music I wanted to create. Being the kind of artist that always wanted to be on his own, it just worked out for me. I can understand how some artists [aren't able to] make a beat. It isn't just one of those overnight situations, it's definitely not. I'm still learning new things about EQ-ing, about live instrumentation and how to record live instrumentation. But I think [knowing how to do both] has definitely helped as far as my career is concerned because it puts me in a position to always be able to just create, create, create. Anything. Without having to wait on anybody. Even though my album got pushed back, I can still create a body of work to give to the people. I'm always the type of person that believes in quality over quantity. I always want the music to mean something, to be soulful, and to just be as organic as possible.
You mentioned that your album Live From the Underground] got pushed back. What's the story behind that?
Samples, man. I'm a sample-heavy kind of producer. When you're dealing with that, and retail, and reaching out to publishers and things like that, it's not as easy of a task as I thought it would be. On K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and Return of 4Eva, and even on 4evaNaDay, I didn't clear any samples because I was giving the music away for free. But when you're talking about retail projects, it's a little bit different, so I've just been dealing with that. There's one single that I wanted in particular that I felt was extremely important that I have on my album, and they had to get on it. It's dropping in June, and 4evaNaDay is really going to be a rollout for that album.
How will your upcoming full-length studio record differ from the handful of mixtapes you've put out in the past?
Definitely a lot more live instrumentation, and just some growth as far as the content. There were some topics I didn't talk about on 4evaNaDa that I'm going to touch on a whole lot. A ton of features on my album are going to be totally different from my mixtapes. I'm just excited for people to hear the transition. There's a lot more singing. Like I said, I couldn't use near as many samples, so I had to create songs that sounded like samples. I tried to dive in deeper into the composing aspects.
As someone who has some label support now, why is it important to keep putting out self-released mixtapes?
In my case, it's because that's how I got known. Return of 4Eva and K.R.I.T. Wuz Here were the things that kind of put me on people's radar and gave me the opportunity to go on the road and to showcase the production aspects as well. So it's extremely important that I keep doing that. And, at the same time, I always kind of treat them like albums. I never want to short people, I always want to give them my all when it comes to music.
Now that you've got the support of Def Jam, will that lead to more frequent collaborations with people like Bun B and Ludacris?
Definitely. But, at the same time, I'm one of those artists that likes to reach out to other artists personally. I mean, that's kind of how I was able to get Ludacris and Bun B on “Country Shit.” I was reaching out to them , and they were already fans of the songs, and they really just showed love.
Will label support make that process easier though?
Definitely, but I still want to feature artists who go along with the vision of my music. I definitely want to work with a lot more soul artists. And also to be able to deal with the Def Jam catalog as far as sampling and things of that nature.
Who are some of the soul artists or people that you would like to work with?
Adele, of course. Al Green. Bobby Womack. Coldplay. Cee Lo Green. Outkast as a whole. Goodie Mob.
You've got a lot of projects dropping this year. Which ones are you most excited about?
All of them, but definitely Live From the Underground. That'll be the first time I can go into a store like Target or Walmart and actually see my CD. That's just a milestone in my career. I produced the whole CD, so it's just exciting to see what people think about it.