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Big K.R.I.T. Reps the New Southern Hip-Hop Underground

Are people still using PlayStations? If the brand is looking for a charming accomplishment via their product, they need look no further than Big K.R.I.T. As a resourceful teenager, Justin Scott used PlayStation's MTV Music Generator to form his first beats, and that entrepreneurial spirit guided him as he continues to form his identity as a producer, emcee and collaborator.

In the last year alone, the 25-year-old Mississippi rapper had the lone featured verse on The Roots' 2011 album, Undun, produced for artists like Jackie Chain and T.I., and pushed his eagerly awaited mixtape, 4evaNaDay, out March 5. Last here in November on The Smoker's Club tour at the Granada, K.R.I.T. shares what we can expect with Saturday's headlining set at Trees.

"Well, I can wild out a little bit more ... and go deeper into all of my material. There will be joints from all of my releases, plus the new work from 4evaNaDay."

He assures me March 5 is the real final release day and we can all get our grubby hands on it. "I really was working to make it perfect," he says of the mixtape, "and be true to my concepts. I was getting a lot of opportunities to produce for other people. I couldn't pass that up and I had to make sure this album was right."

Which means 2012 will be a heavy year for him. In addition to 4evaNaDay, this spring Def Jam will release his first studio album, Live From the Underground. "I saved some projects special for Live," he assures. "I won't be using samples, everything will be original composition. Live From the Underground will be my voice, it always is, but my experiences will be relayed in a different way."

That voice. It is distinctive and yet he remains an attractive collaborator to so many in the game. When asked about his ability to cast such a wide net, he says simply, "I am a fan first." When considering his current collaborations as an emcee and a producer, he credits radio play as his most valuable educator.

"As a kid growing up, I was listening to the radio all the time, and they were playing so many styles. I just paid attention to the differences ... and I don't conform. First, I am a fan. Then I just have to be myself."

That shines through on his recordings. In arguments about hip-hop, I have likened K.R.I.T. to Dolly Parton before. Something about the specificity of his voice, his country boy charm and relatable story-telling radiate an authenticity that brings her to mind. But with like, more weed.

K.R.I.T. seems prepared for the hard work ahead of him as he continues to tour and complete work on his release. I slip in a quick wish, disguised as a question: "Do you think we will see some of your production outside the hip-hop universe, like maybe a Beyoncé track?"

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"Are you kidding, of course," he replies. "I'd love to be doing more soul music, work with Adele, with Coldplay. I am all about these kind of collaborations."

"Dallas has always been good, nothing but love," he says when I ask for affirmation of his North Texas experiences. But mostly, he is coming on Saturday with the promise he gives every city:

"You know, we gon' party. We gon' have some fun."

Catch Big K.R.I.T. on Saturday, February 25, at Trees.

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