Last week saw the release of It’s Better This Way, a surprise release from Big K.R.I.T. hosted by DJ Drama. It’s pretty common for a sneak tape or record to drop these days, but when it’s someone as critically acclaimed as K.R.I.T. it’s hard not to pay attention.

The cover art features a character at a fork in the road. The path to the left leads to ills of the industry grind, the basic and ordinary push to find chart success and a spot in the iTunes library of the young and hip. The right path is simply better. And as K.R.I.T. has done his entire career, he continues to march to his own beat, heading right when his contemporaries keep left.

K.R.I.T. spends the majority of It’s Better detailing his independent hustle. He’s a thinker trapped in a trapping world. He’s a paper and pen writer navigating a digital game where real artists have been written off. He’s convinced there’s nothing worth hearing on the radio, and for the most part he’s right. The problem is his message feels stale. In fact, it’s one we’ve heard from K.R.I.T. his entire career. And while it’s a valid point he hammers home on the title track and “Can’t Be Still”, the dead horse is not worth the whipping he’s putting on it.K.R.I.T’s shine is blinding on cuts like “Vanilla Sky”, which channels the vibe of Outkast and D’Angelo, “How Bout That Money”, and “Piece On Chain”. He handled his own production for most of the tape, which speaks volumes of his finely tuned ear as well as his mighty pen. This stuff oozes that legendary Magic City shine, so uniquely southern it practically leaves you reeling from the Georgia humidity.

But K.R.I.T. we need to know. Why invite DJ Drama to the party? He does little for the vibe here. His cosign has become relatively irrelevant and means little to a worthy project that has plenty of legs without it. There’s enough weight here to confidently reassure the world that K.R.I.T’s lane and pedigree is not and will not be questioned. Next time, do it minus the high profile help. It’s better that way.