Big K.R.I.T. Breaks Down His Most Important Verse & Explains Why We Might Not Be OK (Video)

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“Might Not Be O.K.” was not a Big K.R.I.T. single, but it’s arguably one of the most important songs of his career. On it, he delivers a potent spoken-word-esque verse about police brutality, and the pain in his voice is palpable. Furthermore, he performed it at this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards, wearing a policeman’s uniform and visibly struggling to keep his composure. Not surprisingly, the song – itself a single from singer Kenneth Whalum – has earned plenty of attention, enough to earn him a sitdown with Genius, who asked the Meridian, Mississippi MC to divulge the backstory behind the song’s creation and lyrics.

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To begin, K.R.I.T. acknowledges his own difficulties, saying “writing that verse, recording that verse, and even listening to that song is not the easiest thing to do, ’cause I know why I wrote it and the emotion behind it and what was going on at the time when creating it.” After sharing that his verse was inspired from a conversation he had with Whalum right after the murder of Alton Sterling, Krizzle says it happened at a time when he “wasn’t really inspired musically.” He began asking himself questions like “am I really helping people with the music? ‘Cause every time you do try to do something, something tragic happens and we gotta go right back into that trying to figure out ‘what do we need to say?'”

As far as the song’s lyrical content, he says part of his verse (particularly when he raps “the police been firin’ and they gon’ keep firin'”) is reflecting on the fact that “everybody sees what happens, you know, you got the footage there, the filming [of] somebody getting killed. The officer not handling it correctly. And everybody sees it. And then you see them go [through the] judicial system, and then you turn around and the next day it happens again.” Such a cycle, he says, makes it clear “it isn’t gonna stop.”

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In later parts of the verse, he address the hypocrisy in the legal system, particularly as it relates to eyewitnesses (such as those whose smartphones film the deaths of Black men at the hands of the police). “An eyewitness is the person that sees it. Who can you trust if not the person that just saw it, and everybody else’s story is the same? You’re telling me the eyewitness isn’t credible. So why do you even put them on stand in the first place?” He points to the case of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, saying that media pundits and others argued eyewitnesses to his killing lacked credibility. “I was like ‘well, eyewitnesses [are] what you need as the people you put on the stand, and they saw it first hand. And most of the eyewitnesses, all the stories were the same.’ So it’s like, how can you say the eyewitness isn’t credible?”

What’s most important, he argues, is keeping in mind that, yes, artists can make music about social-justice issues like criminal-justice reform and police brutality – but at the end of the day, “it’s still somebody that lost their life, it’s still another civilian…we’re gonna sit there and we’re gonna watch, we’re gonna tweet, and then they’re gonna go through the whole judicial system and the [cop] is probably gonna get off again and we’re right back where we started.” The endless cycle has left him at a point where “it’s hard to forgive that. It’s hard to understand that. The anger builds up, and so, what do I do next?”

“Might Not Be O.K.” has become so influential to Big K.R.I.T. that he’s even included it as the soundtrack for his personal website.