As a freshman in college, entering my second semester, I had fallen back in love with learning. Being in the classes definitely helped this.
But it was also the environment I was in and what was going on during that time. March 28, 2011, Big K.R.I.T dropped Return of 4Eva.
For me, this project was another source of learning; another tree of life, just as educational and inspirational as the books I was reading in classes such as W.E.B Dubois “The Soul of Black Folk”.
This book and this mixtape did the same thing for my life: challenged me intellectually. I was introduced to a new world through Return of 4Eva.
I was also going through a big Outkast phase because I was going to school in the South. Return of 4Eva felt like an addition to the dialogue that Outkast had started in Atlanta. A new version of that feel good yet head rocking sound mixed with intellectual and inspirational lyrics.
I will never forget the excitement that a good friend of mine had when he introduced my friends and I to the tape. At the time, we were in my friends small room off campus enjoying the average HBCU college life, when my friend bursts into the room, laptop open, and immediately started playing the K.R.I.T tape. I remember him shouting as his head was rocking back and forth, up and down, “This is it! This is the mixtape for the rest of the semester!” He wasn’t lying. After that first time, this tape was in constant rotation for me and all my friends for the rest of that school year.
To this day, playing this entire tape all the way through will take you on a journey with K.R.I.T through the South. His production and lyrics allow the listener to live through him, experiencing almost an hour and a half of Southern Soul that oozes fun, liberation, and hunger: all essential elements for a timeless piece.
Return of 4Eva was rated #27 on Spin’s best albums of 2011. Other notable hip hop albums on this list were: Drake – Take Care #22 ; The Weeknd – House of Balloons #13; Danny Brown – XXX #6; Beyonce – 4 #39; Kanye West and Jay-Z – Watch The Throne #40; Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra #41; Kendrick Lamar- Section.80 #43; The Roots – Undun #44
Krit was also rated at #32 on Rolling Stone’s best albums of 2011. Other notable hip hop albums on this list were Jay Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne #2 ; Beyonce – 4 #25 ; Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra #24; Drake – Take Care – #22
Return of 4Eva was no where to be found on Complex’s list of best albums, but only because Complex defined the album as a mixtape, rating the classic as the 6th best mixtape of 2011. K.R.I.T beat out tapes such as Curren$y – Covert Coupe #9; Pusha T- Fear of God #10; Wiz Khalifa – Cabin Fever #12; Meek Mill – Dream Chasers #15; Future – True Story #19; Lil Wayne – Sorry 4 Tha Wait #25
1. Big K.R.I.T., Return of 4Eva
Thanks to his 2010 project K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Big K.R.I.T. became a mainstay in any discussions about who had next, especially among Southern circles. Following a signing to Def Jam, touring, and a 2011 XXL Freshman cover, the Mississippi native re-emerged in March with Return of 4Eva. The free album—like the previous one, entirely self-produced—displayed K.R.I.T.’s keen ear for soulful sounds as well as steady growth in his content. From ride around anthems to conscious approaches to deeply personal moments, the release was immaculate in its depth and passion. To compliment Krizzle’s own skills, he brought along guests like David Banner and Chamillionaire, as well as Ludacris and Bun B, who helped with the Billboard charting single “Country Shit (Remix).” This opus is sure to continue to hold fans over as the Cinematic signee preps his debut album for 2012.
These mainstream outlets each placed K.R.I.T at a different level in 2011 after the release of this classic project. Outlets like Rolling Stone and Spin may have placed K.R.I.T at numbers like 32 and 27 but compared to the other albums on those lists, this spot reflects an acknowledgment of the talent and potential bleeding out of Return of 4Eva in the form of southern sweet tea and candy paint drippin’.
The high ratings given by outlets such as Complex and XXL reflect the quick influence that K.R.I.T had with this mixtape in the Hip-Hop community. By setting the foundation with the 2010 release of K.R.I.T Wuz Here, Return of 4Eva simply confirmed what everyone suspected: K.R.I.T was a new force all in a class of his own.
For the five year anniversary of Return of 4Eva, take your self back to the first time you experienced this classic tape. What was going on around you? What memories does this tape hold for you?
After reading about my experience with Return of 4Eva…after reading some of the mainstream music reviews for this album…and after seeing some of the other artists, albums, and mixtapes out during that time and where K.R.I.T rated in comparison to them…hopefully, the importance of Return of 4Eva is stamped in history for you as the timeless masterpiece of music it truly is.
And for these reasons, we salute K.R.I.T. for 5 Years of 4Eva…
Check out Return of 4Eva in its entirety and some recent work from K.R.I.T below.