Months after the album drops and Kaytranada is still at the top of this year’s listening chart for me. What first started as a chance listen after a Shlomo song on Soundcloud last summer, turned into a respect for a new titan level producer.
With roots in Por-au-Prince, Haiti, he moved to Montreal, Quebec at a young age. By age 14 was starting to DJ, getting into the production world a year later on the magnificent Fruity Loops. He’s truly spent time mastering his craft on over a dozen projects, and nearly 50 remixes floating around the internet.
A little before the Summer solstice however, Kaytranada released the his long predestined masterpiece first LP, 99.9%. Still holding steady at the top of my list for album of the year, it mixes a pop undertone that just about every type of music lover can agree on, with an exhaustive featured guest list to be firmly respected. It successfully captures many tendrils of pop cultures staunchest current events, and sets them to beats both comprehensive and elegant, while also digging into your deeply rooted primal dancing instinct.
With a surly head-rush dream sequence feeling and lighter flickering a joint to life, TRACK UNO is the foundation of 99.9%. Scratching my head for a description, the first thing that comes to mind is cyberfunk. Sloppy yet precise effects are cut and overlapped with a Soul Train-ready hip mover. Of the 15 tracks on the album, only 4 are solo including this one.
The first vocal feature is on track three, GOT IT GOOD. I did a double-take when I read that 2000 era (2001 for us yanks) British boss Craig David was the collaborator. It makes perfect sense when you listen to the instrumentals: the dreamy keys playing for Craig, coupled with the sputtering, vicious bass that makes it a Kaytra special. Craig let’s his lady know that loyalty in love can be rewarding. In his case that includes a shopping spree of her.
Immediately following is the dual guest feature, TOGETHER. Aluna of British duo AlunaGeorge (check out You Know You Like It and Diver, seriously), and Washington D.C.’s own GoldLink. Again Kaytranada focuses on perfecting the juxtaposition. Slow sexy lyrics from Aluna, with a tag team move to GL and his rapid fire verse of revelations.
Track 7 let me know what the great Phonte has been up to in his life as of late. ONE TOO MANY starts by putting you in your dance position, and an observation of a PYT on the dancefloor of a Hollywood club party scene. He protests he’d love to be with a love at home, illuminated by candlelight, but alas, the dancefloor (thus she) is calling. I assume a love hangover ensued, judging by the song title and catchy-ass chorus. He moves to a verse of anecdotal wisdom on the case for experience-young or more experienced lovers.
DESPITE THE WEATHER is the 8th track, and splits the album in half with a punchy interlude to your party. Get your drink refills, flirt in line for the food, take a breather and stare back at the cutie across the dance floor you just met with your moves.
If everyone had to agree on one track, it would likely be the 13th track, LITE SPOTS. A strange composition; parts of it sound cut from wild vintage guitar and a strange reminiscent feeling that makes me hear Bill Withers. As far as gorgeous unintelligible noises from your lady while you’re on the dancefloor go, this is top notch.
For me overall though, the best track on the album stands with GLOWED UP. Fellow Ventura County native Anderson .Paak continues his barrage of black bravado power in his lyrics. With the power of his elders, swathing through vast amounts of haters has never felt better. The beat is genius, with creepy old school sci-fi effects that make you see a remix of The Day the Earth Stood Still in your mind. At the peak of relaxation, one feels glowed up.
I’d have been happy with this beat the way that is was, but the duo take us on a slower, deeper layer of what’s on Anderson’s mind. The motif of the star in the spotlight again makes an appearance, but this time perhaps Anderson plays Icarus flying too close to the sun, his lover the hands of the one that cares for him. A welcome yet unexpected change in pace indeed.
99.9% is the perfect kind of house party album for its dual duty power of ambient interlude-like tunes and head-nodding, bass-bumping grooves. Consider the level of top brass performers of the good music underground on the album, and the exhaustive list of collaborators Kaytranada has worked with. When Rick Rubin wants to have a hand in your publishing, and XL Recordings (Radiohead, Jack White, Jungle, Sigur Ros) wants you on their tiny but nuclear artist roster, you likely know what you’re doing.
The future of Kaytranada is exponentially brighter with this release, and the sophomore album has me curious on who the guest list might be. Chance the Rapper? Or perhaps even Radiohead's Thom Yorke? Will we see a part two of Track Uno in its entirety (that beat at the end tho)?
I’ll be attending the show on Thursday, September 22nd show at Emo’s here in Austin, TX. Luckily because no one knows me here I can dance as foolishly as I want without repercussion. Try to catch a live date in your city, or at the very least have a listen to the record.
Until next time my friends,