I haven’t always liked hip-hop the way I do now. Back in 2010, my music selection was all over the place. I was listening to mainstream pop, top 40 hits, bay area “hyphy” music, and what ever else my friends forced upon me. But eventually, thanks to a free download site, datpiff.com, I discovered Mississippi native, Big K.R.I.T.
K.R.I.T. Wuz Here was the first mixtape I had ever heard from Big K.R.I.T.. It was part of my transition to less-heard-of, underground, hip-hop music. His lyricism really caught me off guard, especially after hearing such bass heavy beats. I expected meaningless rap, and surprisingly got much more than that. I had this twenty-track mixtape on repeat for weeks. I memorized nearly every song.
I am not sure of the reason, but “Hometown Hero” quickly became my favorite track. It is quite different than my usual taste or style, even now. Still–I listened to that song everyday, sometimes several times a day. Anytime I was in a mood, or couldn’t find anything else on the radio, I played that song. Even when I moved on to a new album, that one track remained in my “favorites” on my iPod long after.
The mixtape came out in May 2010. In the summer of 2011, I was ecstatic to see Big K.R.I.T.’s name on the lineup at Rock The Bells. He had dropped two more dope projects since K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. And by then, he had proved himself, to me, to be an outstanding musician. I was a fan. I learned that he wrote all his own songs, produced all his own beats, and masters his own work–something very rare in the hip-hop industry nowadays.
As I arrived at Rock The Bells, alone and late, as usual, I could hear Big K.R.I.T.’s voice over the speakers. I tried to hurry in past the gates. I didn’t want to miss his whole set, so I ran as fast as I could. I needed to catch at least one song. Expecting to hear nothing but his newest project, I made my way towards the stage. I rushed through people leaving, and in between people standing around.
As I got closer, I hear the slow, spoken intro to “Hometown Hero.” I smiled immediately. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. “No way, not this song. ” I kept thinking, “he has a new mixtape and an album out, why would he go this far back?”
“WINNERS NEVER LOSE SO HOW DARE YOU CONFUSE US,” I shouted, “THEY QUOTE WHAT I SPIT LIKE CONFUCIUS…”
I sang every line, word for word, at the top of my lungs. I was literally in tears. I could not believe this was happening. When it ended, I just stood there. It was the best three minutes of my entire life. I guess the rest of Rock The Bells was fun, but seeing, hearing, and feeling that song live, was one of the most memorable experiences in my hip-hop life to date.