Supposedly the final free mixtape by Mississippi rapper-producer Big K.R.I.T. before his soon-to-drop Def Jam debut, Live From The Underground, 4EvaNaDay begins like a Stuart Smalley skit from Saturday Night Live. As bugs, birds, and the other ambient sounds of a crisp morning buzz beneath smooth-jazz piano and clean guitar phrases, the new day starts with a motivational chat with the mirror. “Did I really give my all?” K.R.I.T. asks. “And am I really at my best today?” From the opening track, “8:04 AM,” up through closer “The Alarm,” he provides a sweeping autobiographical sketch within the course of a day.
The self-help message of the first four tracks is a bit cheesy, but it’s also endearing. It’s most effective when K.R.I.T. connects the “wisdom” to a particular person from his life, as he does with his grandmother on “Yesterday.” Such autobiographical proximity helps him paint a more engaging picture—two fluffy biscuits for breakfast, autumn breezes knocking pecans from trees—which is lacking on his ode to “Boobie Miles,” Houston’s high school football star whose injury forced him into early retirement, but whose legacy was enshrined in H.G. Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights. Here, it’s just cliché advice from the coach—“Never drop the ball, never accept a loss, get back up if you fall, and when your number's called, you better give it all,” K.R.I.T. raps. The “You can do it!” lessons resonate better when they come from K.R.I.T.’s firsthand experiences.
4EvaNaDay sonically switches with “4EvaNaDay (Theme),” as K.R.I.T. returns to the classic laid-back-but-sweaty Southern bounce of last year’s much-applauded Return Of 4 Eva mixtape. He shouts out the come-up stories of his Dirty South brethren and waxes nostalgic about cars, candy paint, rims, and switches with impressive double-time flow. “It ain’t just a car, it ain’t just the wheels, it’s a time machine,” he insists on flute-looping neck-snapper “Me And My Old School,” before he lifts off, faded, on “Sky Club.” And so, as the album art depicts, K.R.I.T. is not necessarily torn between church/family/tradition and club/crew/rap, but perched above and observing the overlapping joy and hypocrisy of both worlds.
As the last dress rehearsal before his Def Jam debut, 4EvaNaDay is a strong statement. K.R.I.T. produced all the tracks (unlike the majority of mixtapes, he’s not rapping over played-out beats made famous by other rappers) and there aren’t any guest features. It’s all K.R.I.T., revealing himself in a way he hasn’t previously. He’s carefully articulating his story and struggles, showing everything so that no doubts linger when Live From The Underground arrives.