Up to this point, I hadn't been wowed by anything Alabama's Yelawolf had put out. His wound-up delivery and choppy, skip-time cadence just isn't smooth, but on Big K.R.I.T's new joint "Happy Birthday Hip Hop," he slows down and actually delivers with some genuine feeling. Big K.R.I.T., on the other hand, grabbed my ear right out of the gate; I was sold the first time through Return of 4Eva. The Mississippi rapper/producer takes me back to a time when Outkast thoroughly dominated my disc-man, but is more than inventive enough in his production to earn his own spot in my e-tapestack.
Though the two appeared on a track before (the remix of K.R.I.T.'s "Hometown Hero"), this new collab is more full and fleshed out. The beat (produced by K.R.I.T.) is a humming vocal sample that feels Southern-gospel, with twinkling piano keys that bring it to life, and relive that old late night/early service dichotomy. Lyrically, the two trade equally contrarian memories about growing up hip-hop in the deep South ("See the Bible Belt gave me the holy spirit/But it didn't give me rap 'cause I wasn't supposed to hear it"), and the the integration of mainstream culture into their Southern experience: "While you was Kid 'n Play-in', I was UGK-in'."
"Happy Birthday Hip Hop" is the first track from K.R.I.T.'s upcoming Last King 2: God's Machine mixtape (out August 18), which will play prologue to his Def Jam debut Live From the Underground, which drops September 27.