Review: KAYTRANADA – 99.9%
It’s easy to think of Kaytranada as someone who’s been around forever. The 23-year old producer has been putting out music so consistently over the last couple of years that his impressive body of work already amounts to dozens upon dozens of quality tracks, EPs, official and unofficial remixes alike.
Kaytra’s entrance into my own life and ears was in late 2011 with a YouTube video of his track ‘Being Sexy’, whose whiff of French electro over a buoyant beat made me stop and take notice of the then-called Kaytradamus.
A small name change later and Kaytranada effortlessly popped onto everyone’s radar with his game changing bootleg remix of Janet Jackson’s ‘If’ (over 5.8 million plays on Soundcloud to date!). Since then the Haiti-born, Montreal-based Kevin Celestin has been responsible for a plethora of releases, multiple Boiler Room sets, a BBC Radio 1 Residency, a Mixmag cover story and, just for good measure, opening for Madonna’s tour.
It wasn’t at all surprising when in 2014 the boy wonder signed an EP deal with cult UK labelXL Recordings, known for having the Midas touch when it comes to spotting future classics. But
while the EP grew into an LP and 2014 became 2016, ‘long-awaited’ turned into the understatement of the century… until now.
Because Kaytranada’s debut full-length 99.9% is finally out and it’s nothing short of 100% excellent.
I admit to being unsure as to how Kaytra’s signature sound would translate to an LP. A ‘signature sound’ can be a double-edged sword when faced with such a task – being instantly recognizable is one thing but putting together a whole album without becoming repetitious isanother. It seems though that the time it took to make 99.9% was just right for said signature sound to mature, remaining ever so easily identifiable but enhanced, much more varied and self-assured.
‘Got it Good’ with Craig David is the undisputed summer anthem, bound to be on heavy radio rotation this year. ‘Lite Spots’, with its Brazilian sample and trademark Kaytra offbeat drum, is the track to rule DJ sets and mixes in the coming months.
Intense trap vibes ooze from ‘Drive Me Crazy’ with Chicago native Vic Mensa while funky R&B takes center stage on ‘One Too Many’ with Phonte.
There’s the fierce bassline of ‘Weight Off’, a collaboration with Toronto’s instrumental hip hop/jazz trio BadBadNotGood. There’s the sophisticated, loungy feel of ‘Despite The Weather’. And there’s ‘Breakdance Lesson N.1’ which somehow reminds me of that earlier described, first ever Kaytra tune I came across.
The UFO-like intro to ‘Glowed Up’ with in-demand California rapper Anderson .Paak is sure to grab your attention even before the monstrous beat drops, while the dreamy vocals of The Internet’s Syd introduce a touch of romance on the epic ‘You’re The One’.
There’s something to be said about Kaytranada’s approach to collaborations on this release – an approach which feels genuinely collaborative, succeeding in getting the best out of the album guests’ own sound and identity.
After closely following Kaytranada’s musical journey since what feels like its very first steps, it is with an almost motherly pride that I write this review. For Kaytra has not only delivered but proven that his meteoric rise from a teenager playing around on FruityLoops in his bedroom to cover star and XL Recordings artist is only the beginning.
Next up – 101%.
By Raya Raycheva