Live From The Underground is being promoted as the debut record by Big K.R.I.T - King Remembered in Time - but that's just a stodgy relic of old-timey label machinations. K.R.I.T., who limns backwoods struggle with honesty and a velvety twang, has been around for a couple of years now.
Praise for his 2010 mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, landed him on XXL's annual Top 11 Freshmen cover, and 2011's self-produced Return Of 4eva had the conceptual depth of a studio album despite being billed as a mixtape.
So it's expected, but heartening nonetheless, to see K.R.I.T. - so refreshingly unreliant on the aesthetic trappings used as distractions by much, much lesser rappers - deliver on his first label-backed record. The versatile rapper matches - and is never outshone by - his guests' strengths: B.B. King's cerebral sorrow, 2Chainz's brawny ignorance, Devin the Dude's loquacity, with soulful crossover appeal assisted by Toronto's Melanie Fiona.
Live From The Underground is a generous, humble statement record that should ensure K.R.I.T. won't end up another label-scooped lost boy.
Top track: Praying Man, featuring B.B. King