This week saw the release of two mixtapes in particular that are worth your attention. Here’s a quick review of each: RockaByeBaby by Cassie and King Remembered In Time by Big K.R.I.T.
Cassie – RockaByeBaby (Bad Boy Records)
Since her 2006 Ryan Leslie-produced breakout “Me & U,” Cassie has managed to keep herself in the spotlight for seemingly everything but her music. Singles failed to chart, no follow-up album to Cassie materialized, and she not only got written off by people but all but became a laughing stock, written off as a talentless one-hit wonder. Seen as more of Diddy’s arm candy – she has in fact made a living as a professional model – Cassie has yet to step out and make her mark as a singer. In that sense, going the free mixtape route to tune up makes a lot of sense, and that’s what the Interscope Records signee has done with this week’s release RockaByeBaby. Interspersed with memorable lines from “New Jack City” to represent a theme around the Keisha character in the movie, the mixtape is surprisingly a very cohesive project that finds Cassie’s robotic-yet-soulful crooning over instrumentals from Mike Will Made It, Da Internz, THC and Rob Halladay. Songwriting credits include the Grammy Award-winning James Fauntleroy on “Paradise” (featuring Wiz Khalifa) and “I Know What You Want.” All but four of the 13 tracks on RockaByeBaby feature a rapper guest, and the list isn’t too shabby: French Montana, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, Pusha T – and even Too $hort. The standout tracks with replay value are the title track (co-written by Bad Boy rapper Los) and “Bad B**ches” with Ester Dean.
Big K.R.I.T. – King Remembered In Time (Def Jam Records)
The well-respected Mississippi producer/emcee has yet to disappoint with any release, be it mixtape or album. Big K.R.I.T.’s consistency streak continues with the King Remembered In Time mixtape, meant to serve as a warm-up to an upcoming album of the same name. The self-produced project gravitates towards Outkast and UGK sound but is drenched with K.R.I.T.’s unique drawl and delivery. It’s always organic and accessible, something of a trademark for the rapper, allowing him to reach for mainstream stardom yet garner respect from vets across the hip-hop community. Fellow Def Jam star Trinidad James checks in with a verse over the booming, bass-heavy “My Trunk,” most definitely to be appreciated in the car with the proper bass adjustment. Wiz Khalifa and Smoke DZA appear on the groupie-dismissing “Only One,” a smoky, trunk-rattling cut with a vintage K.R.I.T. sound. The tape is rounded off nicely with the introspective, soulful “Life Is A Gamble” in the vain of Pete Rock and CL Smooth and featuring warm vocals from Chicago crooner and Motown Records artist BJ The Chicago Kid. K.R.I.T shows maturity and ability to evoke emotion with the acoustic guitar riff-laden “Big Picture,” which nicely rounds out the mixtape. Overall, with King Remembered In Time, Big K.R.I.T definitely shows he deserves to be crowned now for being the most consistent and progressive emcee not named Kendrick Lamar who bridges the old-school with today’s sounds.