The first thing you’ll hear is a loop. The saxophone is a little jaunty, mournful, and impertinent, and it links “DEAL MYSELF,” the relentlessly entertaining clip for the latest single by KRiTTA, to the long tradition of offbeat, artful, personality-driven, jazz-aware hip-hop. Then the bass speaks up — in a voice so big and bossy you’ll feel it on the soles of your feet. As for the drumbeat, well, that’s undeniable. It’s a signal from the streets, a rallying-call to block parties and late-summer throwdowns in the park, an aural signature of the inner city. More than that, it’s an anthem for self-belief, and an invitation not just to know KRiTTA better – but for listeners to believe in themselves.
Then the rapper seals the deal. His thunderous, swaggering verses are designed to reach neophytes and aficionados alike. We can thrill to his deft wordplay, attitude, and outrageous boasts. He’s sharpened his skills in one of the most competitive and storied hip-hop scenes in the world: the San Francisco Bay, a place of constant creativity and innovation. Echoes of all the Bay Area movements and sub-movements are audible in KRiTTA’s productions and delivery, and he’s the first to acknowledge his debt to the local masters. Individuality and inimitability are Northern Californian traditions, too, and this emcee has developed a style and a relationship to the beat all his own.
Sotrab’s stylish clip for “DEAL MYSELF” opens with an aerial shot of a quietly amazing block: Boyd Street in the Toy District of Los Angeles, dotted with colorful storefronts advertising vape paraphernalia. Smoke is big business, but these shops are run by individual proprietors. This is the gritty L.A. the director is showing us, the striving L.A., filled with people on the grind, confident in what they’re selling. Sotrab’s camera lingers on telling, scene-setting details: faded graffiti on squat Arts District buildings, cracked pavement, iron bridges, socio-political messages spray-painted onto city walls. The people we’re shown fit the mood of the streetscape. They’re photographers, breakdancers, hustlers on cell phones, and record store shoppers searching for vinyl. This is not the California we’re used to, but it’s got a gritty glamour all its own. And striding through these shots is KRiTTA, looking completely at home, rapping from rooftops, the passenger side of vintage cars, and from the midst of a cypher. He’s a hip-hop citizen, the carrier of an indispensable message, a participant in a vital and thriving culture, and a voice for the times.