Big K.R.I.T. Details Being Moved To Tears For His BET Performance (Video)

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Last week, Big K.R.I.T. seemingly delivered the musical performance of his career to date. During the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards, the Mississippi MC/producer performed a remix to Kenneth Whalum’s “Might Not Be OK” dressed as an officer of the law. In addition to the highly evocative lyrics, Krizzle’s delivery and showmanship shined on one of the biggest stages of his six-plus-year career. The MC raised his voice (symbolizing the brute force authorities have sometimes used on Black people), and raised his profile—as he raised the artistic bar for 2016 Hip-Hop.

Appearing on Sway In The Morning, K.R.I.T. spoke about the creation of the song and why his BET set personally moved him to tears. Sway (who goes on record to call the moment one of the best performances in recent times) asks his guest about the songwriting, and if there was backlash to appearing as a law enforcer at a time when Hip-Hop has been a critical voice against police brutality and racial profiling.

Big K.R.I.T. Takes The Hip Hop Awards Stage In A Police Uniform & Uses Deadly Force (Video)

“The first eight bars is just [aimed at] society, and what we see as a culture and a people, what you see on television, and what’s going on with the world,” says K.R.I.T. of the song (its lyrics are below). The original mix by Kenneth released less than one month ago. “Pretty much, the next eight bars are [in the perspective] of somebody who wants to see you dead, or doesn’t understand why or where you’re going. Their fear is at the all-time high. They’re just goin’ in. That’s why you jear the change in my voice [going] to the aggression. ‘Cause for me, it was about figuring out a way [to] capture this moment, the way it might feel—how quickly something can go from you just going home and then it escalates—and now you can’t go home. Wearing the police uniform, on an artistic level, people could see when that transition happens, or understand, when I get to yelling, who I’m portraying. [I could have gone] a very safe route—just being up there wearing whatever I normally wear. [Instead, I took a risk in hopes that people would understand the verse more].”

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Asked about the impact of his verse, K.R.I.T. reflects, “I’m still getting my mind wrapped around it, Sway. [There are] people that are directly affected by what happened, who are victims. As hard as I go on a record or as many songs as I’ve wrote, I don’t know what that feels like per se. So it’s just how I feel, and the sense of ‘What could I say to help a person in this manner?’ Or, ‘What could I do to heal someone that [possibly cannot] be healed by my words?’ It’s just this feeling of, ‘Is my music really helping?’ I think that the whole song ‘Might Not Be OK’ with [Kenneth Whalum] was like, I’m human. I see what I see on television. I see what’s going on in the communities. Even I’m like, ‘Lord, what can I do? What can I say?’ It wasn’t easy.”

For as important as the artist saw the performance in the course of his career, he admits that he was reluctant to view it when it aired last week.”I told myself I wasn’t going to watch [the performance]. But then my girl, Mara Hruby was like, ‘You gotta see this.’ My team and everybody was like, ‘You gotta watch it.’ I watched it and I kinda fell back from social networking [after it aired].” K.R.I.T. apparently did not the opinions of others–positive or negative impact his message. “For me, I gotta live in this moment; I gotta be comfortable with what I did. I did a lot of praying before I did it. [I came] to the realization that there probably might be some [negative backlash] or someone that wants to do me harm after that, and the hate could be at that height.” He updates, “I haven’t see [that hate negativity or hate] and I’m trying not to see it, because there’s been so many [positive responses]. For me, that’s what I want to tie myself into to motivate me, not whatever hate I may come across.”

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K.R.I.T. reveals that this song began on July 5, 2016—the same day Alton Sterling was killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “The production is [by Kenneth Whalum]; he produced that record. Having the conversation with him is why I even did [the song]. I called him, literally the day after my 12-For-12 [freestyle series], Mr. [Alton] Sterling had got killed the same day and the footage went live [as I did 12-For-12]. For me, [it was hard] because I can’t celebrate this roll-out of freestyles, ’cause I’m watchin’ somebody [die on TV]. The whole next week [I did not] feel like rapping. I didn’t feel like writing. I was in my house. I called him like, ‘Man, what could I say? What kind of song could we make?'” The one producer replied coached the other. Kenneth reportedly told Krizzle, “‘However you’re feeling, you create from that perspective.’ [I replied], ‘I don’t feel like I can fix this. I don’t feel like I can say anything that can help people.’ He was like, ‘Well, say that. We’re not gonna force it, we’re not gonna push it. Whatever comes from it, comes from it.’ Then ‘Might Not Be OK,’ which is that.”

Heather B, who was in attendance at the BET Hip Hop Awards, says she noticed people in the crowd moved to tears. At 15:30 Sway asks Big K.R.I.T. if he cried in performing the song. “Oh, definitely,” confirms the artist. “Because…again, it was like a wave of happiness that came over me. [I was] so worried about it, stressed about it, and wanting to do my best. It’s a verse, spoken word, but you don’t want to mess up something that important. Not being able to sleep [for days] wanting to get it right. Being able to do it in a way [that was impactful was my objective]. At this point, eight bars in, and after that it’s kind of just black out. Just go. Whatever is gonna come out. Yeah man, I balled. ‘Cause all that frustration and anger, it went away.”

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Closing the Sway In The Morning interview (where K.R.I.T. also discusses his recent weight loss and leaving Def Jam Records), the artist freestyles (26:30) before unveiling new single “Free Agent” at 35:30.

#BonusBeat: The entire lyrics to Big K.R.I.T.’s verse from “Might Not Be OK,” courtesy of Genius:

Mamas been cryin’ and they gon’ keep cryin’
Black folk been dyin’ and they gon’ keep dyin’
Police been firin’ and they gon’ keep firin’
The government been lyin’ and they gon’ keep lyin’
Propaganda news channels, that shit is all for show
Camera phone videos is like all we know
Diluting what an eye witness might really say
Because the whole world saw a murder yesterday
Now your account ain’t what it used to be
According to them your eyes can’t adjust to the violence you ain’t used to see
Police brutality is all in your mind
And the tactics that they use only look worse in rewind
And people die everyday, you should get used to it
Hands behind yo’ back, face down, and still say you shootin’
Can’t breathe
Knee where your neck be like why you movin’?
Kids in your car and they on like what you doin’?
Like why you chillin’? Fuck yo’ feelin’s
Why you smilin’ when I’m so serious?
I ain’t patrolling your space, like why you livin’?
Stop asking questions, why you filmin’?
You look suspicious, I think you dealin’
Step out the car, fit the description
Someone I fear, I need to kill it
Blood on the curb, I didn’t spill it
‘Nother civilian, ‘nother not guilty
‘Nother T-shirt, ‘nother rap lyric
‘Nother life gone, I can’t forgive it