When he’s not collaborating with other rap stars like Rick Ross, A$AP Ferg, and Ludacris, Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. is playing free shows. Or at least such was the case on Wednesday night at The Sinclair in Harvard Square, Cambridge—a free show sponsored by Converse Rubber Tracks featuring hometown rapper Michael Christmas, whom Big K.R.I.T. had selected to open for him.

I met K.R.I.T. backstage, a few hours before showtime. He had been to Boston twice before, performing at The Middle East – Downstairs, but forgot the name of the other venue. His bodyguard, sitting on a stool facing away from us, helped him out. “TD Garden.”

What do you do when you’re sitting across from one of the most successful rappers of the last decade? Start off with a dad joke.

Jon: Were you Small K.R.I.T. when you first started rapping?

K.R.I.T.: Oh, no. When I first started out, first started branding myself, it was Kritikal, with two K’s. People had a hard time pronouncing it at open mics and shit. So what I did was just shave off the kal part and K.R.I.T. came about, and then just from the whole southern movement and how it’s always Young-, Little-, Big-, know what I’m saying? I decided to be Big K.R.I.T. And then I had to give it an acronym, because what does K.R.I.T. mean? So I decided King Remembered In Time.

Jon: I thought it would be funny if you were Small K.R.I.T. to start, then Medium K.R.I.T…

K.R.I.T.: Hell naw. It was none of that (laughs). It was K.R.I.T., then it was Big K.R.I.T., man. Straight up.

Jon: All right. So the acronym, King Remembered In Time—what do you hope that people remember about you and your music?

K.R.I.T.: Timeless music, man. Making timeless music, being myself. Hopefully ushering in a certain sound that transcends outside of hip-hop. And have the kind of legacy that people that I grew up listening to have as well. It’s one of those names [K.R.I.T.] that I’m always going to be living up to. I should die trying to still do this. That’s the mentality.

Jon: Your latest album, Cadillactica, is an imaginary planet that represents your creative mind. You’re free to explore and live on that planet. Does Cadillactica have moons? If so, who is living on them?

K.R.I.T.: Man! (laughs). Damn. To be honest with you, I never thought if it had any moons or what are the surrounding planets.

Jon: It’s like, Ludacris out there, Wiz Khalifa, André 3000

K.R.I.T.: You know what? That would be a good idea. All the artists that I respect and I work with got they own planets. Any moons surrounding them would be the music that I sample. All the music that I sample comes from those moons. And they grow out of the ground and get put on vinyl records.

Jon: Who are your favorite artists to perform and record with?

K.R.I.T.: I would say Bun B., Big Sean, Smoke DZA. Me and Wiz, and Curren$y because of “Glass House.” Whenever Ludacris come out…who else, man? I would say them.

Jon: Michael Christmas—how did you hear about him? Why did you choose him to perform with you tonight?

K.R.I.T.: Well it was crazy, man, because Converse gave me the opportunity to pick the opener. I dug the homie’s storytelling on that “Pleasant Winter” record. And there’s something refreshing about listening to somebody that doesn’t rely heavily on synths, or trap beats necessarily. A few of the records I heard from him, he had a real organic sample, soulful kind of feel. And the cadence he carries. It’s dope to hear somebody that doesn’t always do A-B-A-B rap, and they understand cadence. So that was probably one of the reasons why I chose him. That was not even knowing how big a following he had in Boston, man, so it was kind of dope to see—he’s got a little movement out here.

Jon: Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions? And if so, what was yours?

K.R.I.T.: My New Year’s resolution for 2015 was get a six-pack. I’m doing horribly at it right now. I really think I’m going to change it to eating a steak every week and enjoying the drinks that I have, because that’s really what I’m doing.

Jon: Which came first, producing or rapping?

K.R.I.T.: Rapping came first, but I couldn’t afford to pay for beats. I was like 13. So what I did was I started freestyling over other funk beats. And then I got a program—MTV Music Generator on PlayStation—and I started working on that.

Jon: How do you make a beat on a PlayStation?

K.R.I.T.: Well, you’ve got a control stick.

Jon: Do people still do that?

K.R.I.T.: You know, you probably can! I would be tempted to actually make a beat. First you need to find a functioning PlayStation One. You need a memory card, man, and the crazy thing is, MP3s didn’t really exist back then when I started—everything was WAV file. And if you take four-second snippet of a WAV, I think it still rounds up to be like five megabytes. Most memory cards only had nine megabytes. One sample you pretty much filled up your memory card. Very limited. But it taught me that if you can make a beat on that, you can make a beat on anything.

Jon: In your interviews you’ve said you like listening to music in the car. Do you drive a Cadillac? What kind of car do you drive?

K.R.I.T.: I need to get the Caddy back—I got half of it at the crib. Cadillac ’73. We brought it on stage the other night. My Monte Carlo 1986 is in the shop. I’m getting that back in another month—I’m waiting on a few more things—get it painted, get it right.

But yeah man, riding around listening to music is one way for me to tell if sonically it’s going to move people, because technically you spend more time in your car and your house than anywhere else. Traffic…all those things. If I can make the kind of album that makes you forget that you’re in car trying to get from point A to point B, the music is successful.

Jon: Unless you’re in Boston, underground on the subway.

K.R.I.T.: It’s difficult, yeah. It might be hard to block all that out. But get Cadillactica and see. I think it might help.

Jon: How would you describe your music without using genre names?

K.R.I.T.: Timeless. Not trying to be in a box. Speaking from real life. Humble. Confident. Southern, soulful, gritty.

Jon: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk.

K.R.I.T.: It’s all good. There ain’t no naked ladies in here.

Jon: Taking the night off?

K.R.I.T.: (laughs). Yeah.

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