Review: KAYTRANADA’s 99.9% is Bangin’

  • Graphic Zoe Gelfant

Local electronic artist KAYTRANADA has finally released his long anticipated debut record 99.9% under XL Recordings label. The young Montréal-based producer has been making waves since 2012 following the release of a widely-praised remix of the famous Janet Jackson track, “If”. He’s produced for big name artists such as Anderson .Paak, Freddie Gibbs, Wiki and most recently, Chance the Rapper.

Now, it’s KAYTRANADA moment to bask in the spotlight and shine with its stunningly crisp debut. The album is saturated with funky basslines and fully utilized features that make each new playthrough of the record feel like a breath of fresh spring time air. Each song has its own personality while still playing an important role on the tracklist to make the album flow cohesively.

Cutely named “Track Uno” sets the vibe and sound that can be found throughout the LP. Warm fizzly high hats, groovy hollow bass lines and colourful synths enrich the experience. This song was made to be played at clubs and for people to lose themselves in the heat of the dance floor.

Guest feature Craig David delivers soulful vocals on the song “Got It Good” overtop of which Kay is able to provide some lush production. The R&B flare pushes the track to feel sensual, as female vocal samples are looped throughout the song. The effect of the loop paired with Craig’s passionate singing make for a catchy track on which KAYTRANADA flexes his talented beat making skills.

KAYTRANADA’s jazz background become apparent at first listen, as jazz influences seems to shape most of the sounds in 99.9%, including “Despite the Weather”. The track exemplifies the way Kay takes jazz and gives it a fresh spin while still it keeping that classic feel. With a playful hammond organ covered entirely by jingling bells, “Despite the Weather” is carried by a groovy bassline that meets female vocals harmonizing together. It feels like old school hip hop and reminds me of a similar production styling to that of J Dilla.

On “Bus Ride,” jazz artist Karriem Riggins presents sharp percussion on the drums and guides the instrumental forward with some assisted production from Toronto musician, River Tiber. Karriem’s sensational drum playing is precise and melds so casually into the beautiful strings being played over him.

Jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD contribute clean instrumental work in “Weight Off”. Chester Hansen’s bass guitar breathes life into lustrous synths. Alexander Sowinski composes the most addictive drum playing on the album which feels smooth and compelling to listen to.

Anderson .Paak—who has been quickly on the rise since earlier this year with his commercial breakthrough record, Malibu—makes a great guest feature on “Glowed Up”. The beat sounds as though it was specifically made with .Paak in mind; he’s one of my favourite features that appear on the entire LP. Bubbly synths are layered over top of a spacious and atmospheric instrumental that completely switches halfway through to a more melancholic beat driven by Anderson .Paak’s heart-felt singing. The drumming on the second half of the song adds an atmospheric vibe that compliments the first half really well. I imagine this track could easily make any club go off; it’s an absolute banger.

Another one of my favourite songs off the record, “Lite Spots”, carries an infectious bassline that lends itself to being super fucking groovy. The production comes out sounding clear and has a bit of a future funk aesthetic towards the beginning. It’s extremely catchy with its blaring trumpets—and would be able to make any party seeker loose their mind. It’s another hot track that proves that KAYTRANADA knows how to produce intoxicating beats.

KAYTRANADA has crafted an album that is polished and profoundly pivotal for the young artist’s career. All the features sound comfortable contributing their styles to the LP which take up a majority of the project. Only four songs are produced solely by the local artist and they showcase his abilities to utilize samples well and also prove that he can hold his own as an artist.

99.9% flows so well from one track into the next while maintaining the same general vibe. Uplifting and fun are immediate thoughts that stick out to me when I listen to the danceable production that’s caked all over the record.

Lucky for you, KAYTRANADA is performing in our fine city tonight at Le Métropolis. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, the first thing you should do after reading this is BUY THEM! From what I have gathered listening to this LP on multiple playthroughs, I could only imagine it’s going to be an energetically wild show that’s going to get the whole club sweating.

KAYTRANADA // May 19 // Doors open 6:30 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. // Le Metropolis // $27-$32.50 //

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