Big K.R.I.T. keeps busy, man.

He’s been steadily releasing projects since his emergence in the rap game (he's basically dropped a free mixtape every year since 2005), not to mention solid guest appearances over the years alongside everyone from Tech N9ne to T.I. Quantity doesn’t always mean quality, though, so with yet another free release in the form of It’s Better This Way, you’re justified in wondering if whether or not every drop from K.R.I.T. is necessarily worth committing a whole hour to. Maybe you’re figuring anything worth your while will trend on Twitter and you’ll stumble upon it that way. 

Well, It’s Better This Way definitely is worth your time.

During the waning moments of the surprise tape’s first proper track "King Part 4," a defiant K.R.I.T. contextualizes the thesis of his surprise mixtape perfectly. "Art is art no matter how you sculpt it," Krizzle bellows defiantly. If the clever album art wasn’t clear enough representation, then that lyric hopefully did the trick in letting you know how Big K.R.I.T. intends on handling his career path-- noncommittally. And rightfully so.

K.R.I.T. has proven that he can provide the mainstream, easy-listening records and the more thought-provoking, layered tracks, with equal dexterity. He doesn’t feel the need to double down and commit to either end of the spectrum. And why should he?

That’s the point of It’s Better This Way. It’s also what puts K.R.I.T. in a 'favorite rapper' category nowadays. Backpackers, stoners, the turnt crowd alike find something to get out of K.R.I.T.’s growing discography. So, maybe it should not be a surprise that, with his tour right around the corner, It’s Better This Way (which is almost entirely produced by the emcee, too) comes across as a gift of good faith from K.R.I.T. to those who dig him for his diverse capabilities on the mic.

As a result, you get an array of tracks that almost all stand out for entirely different reasons.

The aforementioned jazzy and impassioned "King Part 4" is immediately counterbalanced by "86," which straight up rides. This theme plays out effectively through the rest of the album, and never in a way that makes listening feel like a constant flip-flop from track to track. The tape is a Prix Fixe, with one track going seamlessly into another, never flavored too similarly to its predecessor, and nearly always satisfying the palate. "Shake Em Off" bounces like it was made for Slick Rick, but gets swept off its feet and is given the Dirty South treatment. The dichotomy is a perfect marriage, with Luda tearing up the final verse that makes a better case for the "Fast & Furious" vet’s rap resurrection than most of Ludaverse did. Its successor "How Bout That Money," again, is totally different-- smooth and hazy, with a twinge of Bone Thugs influence on the hook.

But as I said, this does seem to be a tape for K.R.I.T. loyalists. So, can it transcend and become a tape for everyone? It’s not blowing up the internet and, while it is impressive, it doesn’t supercede King Remembered In Time or Return of 4eva as his best work. However, if you are a K.R.I.T. novice, maybe tracks like "Shake Em Off" and the titular "It’s Better This Way" can convince you to revisit those works.

Sure, fans of all sorts of rap music might take umbrage to the message of "It’s Better This Way," wherein the Mississippi native calls out the callous and redundant wave of new music ("Ain’t no telling when it’s gon' change/Cause they all really say the same things...If you looking for some original soul/I know where you should go/It’s better this way"). Though, skeptics can let this tape be the indicator. Proof that K.R.I.T. isn’t claiming superiority over this kind of music, he’s just shedding-- or trying to shed-- light on the idea that you can do more. And on It’s Better This Way, Big K.R.I.T. is doing a lot-- embodying multiple facets of his self. Now, it’s just a matter of whether or not his continuous albums and mixtapes are convincing enough to have you be enlightened, too, or if K.R.I.T.’s relentlessness is becoming white noise - oversaturated.

I can’t imagine the highlights of this surprise drop being heard and then be taken as white noise, but you never know with hip hop fans. We’re a fickle breed and people like what they like, and sometimes a jack of all trades is a master of none. In the meantime, K.R.I.T. fans old and (hopefully some) new will gladly welcome It’s Better This Way into their fall rotations.