Big K.R.I.T. on Mizzou protests: “You have to stand for something”

Big K.R.I.T. comes to Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom on Nov. 13. Image courtesy of the artist’s management.
Big K.R.I.T. comes to Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom on Nov. 13. Image courtesy of the artist’s management.

Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T.‘s stories are wrought with the strife and angst of an upbringing in the South. K.R.I.T., aka Justin Scott, takes you on a journey through his mind with his music, so it’s easy to see why tracks like “The Vent,” “King of the South,” and “Cadillactica,” make him a favorite of underground hip-hop heads.

Scott’s latest project, “Better This Way,” was a surprise mixtape that detailed the struggles of the independent artist. Artists like K.R.I.T. face creative control issues and the risk of financial failure that goes with putting out music that’s against the popular grain.

Despite that, Scott’s at the top of his game right now. His audiences are bigger and his lyrics more affecting. Speaking to him ahead of his headlining show in Denver at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom on Friday, his Southern charm is full of swagger. Read on as we talk to Big K.R.I.T. about the next step in his career, the protests at the University of Missouri and whether he cares about winning a Grammy.

Reverb: How do you feel about the state of our world right now?

Big K.R.I.T.: You know, I feel amazing. It’s amazing to be out on the road, still putting out music that reflects growth and that people enjoy. People come out and support these shows and now that I have a band on stage it’s even better. I’m happy that people want to talk with me more and do interviews about things that aren’t necessarily about music, but about my thoughts and feelings.

In some of my older content, I’m always talking about what’s important to people and what’s happening like police brutality, and what’s happening in Missouri right now. It’s great to see people standing up for what they believe in and letting the world know what’s happening in their neighborhoods.

I was going to ask you about Missouri and the uprising against racism and intolerance. Do you feel like we’re seeing more people taking a stand?

It’s a new generation, so it’s powerful. They took a lot from how Malcolm X and Martin Luther King took on the system. For students to be sacrificing their scholarships to change a flawed system shows strength and power. I know those football players love what they do and it’s provided the money for their education. But you have to stand for something.

Do you feel like your story is overlooked?

I mean, it’s one of those things because I’m from a place where people already have an assumption of history based off of what they’ve seen in movies. Racism and issues of inequality aren’t new to me. I went through that growing up so a lot of times it feels like people think they already know what’s happening in the South. When it happens with someone big like Donald Sterling, that brings more attention to it. But honestly, I’ve been going through that a lot in my life. David Banner who knows full well what it’s like living in and being from the South, he and I wonder why a lot of it’s not being televised.

Hip-hop is like the local news or CNN. A lot of people going through it get their topics from the music and we’ve got to keep that in mind. We’ve got to give both sides of the spectrum.

Do you care if you ever win a Grammy?

(Laughs) You know, it’s like asking a football player if they want to win the Super Bowl. Of course I want one because that’s the ultimate accolade of acceptance.

What’s happening to me now is that I’m starting to realize if I’m comfortable with the success I’ve gotten to this point, or having the fans that I have, that’s happiness. Tasting those accolades can put you in a position where you don’t appreciate what you’ve gotten because you’re so used to the accomplishments. I would love to win a Grammy but I’m not chasing it.

You come to Denver often and sort of around the same time each year. What is it like to see the crowds get bigger and change right in front of you?

You know, the crowds do get bigger, the lyrics get louder, the venues change a bit. I’m growing as an artist and now that we have a band, I can do songs that make it a different experience. I want to show a different side of my stage performance and presence that adds to the story that people already know through my music.