That's right--despite the high-profile releases of Snoop Dogg's The Doggumentary (shout to Seattle's own Jake One for his contributions) and Wiz Khalifa's Rolling Papers (which in all fairness wasn't as disappointing as Cabin Fever, though it was certainly no Kush & OJ), the credit for this week's best hip-hop release goes to a free download from Mississippi's contribution to the 2011 freshman squad.
In his breakdown of the 2011 XXL Freshman list, Cocaine Blunts' Noz deemed Big K.R.I.T. "way ahead of the curve in terms of song concepts and execution but yet to break out of his influences in terms of delivery." And while K.R.I.T.'s skills as a rapper might be overshadowed by his predecessors, particularly Pimp C, his talent as a songwriter and producer is evident on Return Of 4Eva, the half-mixtape, half-album follow-up to last May's similarly impressive K.R.I.T. Wuz Here.
Potentially the most impressive thing about 4Eva is that K.R.I.T. was responsible for every one of its 21 cohesive tracks. But in both his musicality and lyricism, the level of honest personality makes the album a prime candidate for repeat listens, and while the level of traditionalist sentimentalism could be taken for a weakness, it's more often one of his greater strengths (see drop-top anthem "Rotation" for proof).
An evocative narrative crafter, K.R.I.T. is slowly mastering the art of meshing swagger and soul--"I don't rap, I spit hymns," he says on "Free My Soul," sandwiched between similarly reflective tracks "Another Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism" and "The Vent." It's not all trap music, nor is it so heavy you can't bear to listen more than once, and 4Eva builds on Wuz Here as a solid indicator that his future official debut on Def Jam will be worth paying attention to.