Release Date: May 6, 2016
Record label: XL
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Montreal producer Kaytranada has been the secret weapon behind some of the best electronic music of recent years. His distinctive style – a deft melange of 80s boogie and hip-hop dynamics – encompasses a versatility that has brought him production work with both street-tough hip-hop artists like Mobb Deep and Freddie Gibbs, and R&B/pop singers like Anderson .Paak, The Internet and Katy B. While there is little new ground being broken on this debut album – DJ Spinna and Onra have both pursued similar territory – Kaytranada adds a pop nous and Dilla-like beat-making precision to the equation.
At the start of April, Louis Kevin Celestin – the artist currently known as Kaytranada - gave The Fader his most searingly honest interview to date. In it, he described his state of mind at times: “My mom would always say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” he remembers. “I was hella depressed.”Later in the piece, he would discuss everything from his sexuality to his current musical state of mind.
When Dr. Dre unveiled The Chronic, he transcended his N.W.A past and became a frontman. When Statik Selektah dropped Lucky 7, he was no longer a mere member of Pro Era but the star of the show. When a producer releases their own album, two things happen: they further establish their brand and they lose the ability to hide behind their beats.
Review Summary: Looking back, grounded in the present“You are known by the company you keep”; never has this saying been less true than it has been with Kaytranada. Louis Kevin Celestin appears in interviews and features as a quiet, shy man, one whose struggles with depression and his own sexuality (he came out publicly as gay in a feature for The Fader last month) have kept him in a solitary place for years. His music, on the other hand, has seen its most significant support (until his signing with XL Recordings) on fist-pumping dudebro havens like Majestic Casual and the “future bass” corner of SoundCloud.
There’s a particularly touching moment in a recent FADER profile of the Montreal-based producer Kaytranada. Kay, whose real name is Louis Kevin Celestin, moved from Haiti to Canada with his family when he was an infant, and his father retains a strong sense of national pride. When Kaytranada plays his dad a song from his debut album, 99.9%, the music sparks a rush of patriotic excitement.
At just 23, the Montreal-based Kaytranada — born Louis Kevin Celestin — has already crafted fantastic remixes of Missy Elliott’s “Sock It 2 Me,” TLC’s “Creep,” and Janet Jackson’s “If” even though he was only a sapling when the records originally came out (a.k.a. the era where silk dresses and FUBU co-mingled). Naturally, Generation X club-hoppers and radio listeners have their memories of those songs colored by nostalgia because their life experiences were soundtracked by them, but you’re not having life experiences at age 6.
Kevin Celestin's stature grew through woozy dancefloor funk remixes that led to DJ gigs, including European dates and opening for fan Madonna in North America. Despite the acclaim, along with admiration from the likes of Janet Jackson and Teedra Moses -- two of the major figures whose material he transformed -- the Port-au-Prince-born Montreal native wanted to be known as an artist in his own right. A low-profile series of digital and vinyl releases dated back to 2010.
Hip-hop and house music have had a turbulent relationship since their beginnings, though the genres aren’t really so different. In fact, their similarities have coaxed many artists to produce compounds of the two. It’s been commonplace to find hip-hop cuts on dance producers’ albums in recent times. Equally, the grainy funk loops, vinyl crackles and EQing of hip-hop now regularly feature on the 4/4 dancefloor beats craving its organic matter and grit.
It's been a long, long time coming, but Kaytranada is finally gracing us with his first full-length. Sure, he's done production for a slew of heavy-hitters, dropped some EPs, and delivered countless remixes, but this is the first time we've been given something substantial to get lost in, and you really do get lost. 99.
Over the past couple of years, KAYTRANADA has been one of the go-to producers and collaborators for the adventurous artist. Vic Mensa, Mick Jenkins, Wiki, Rome Fortune, Kali Uchis, even Talib Kweli — they’ve all found their voices fit within the stunning tracks from the Montreal-based producer. He showed a unique flexibility and verve, a glowing life that drips, melts, and molds around the original voices, providing the precise support and frame that they need.
In the era of SoundCloud, one simple edit can launch a career. Just ask Kevin Celestin. His unofficial remix of Janet Jackson's "If," which now sits close to six million plays, earned him his very first gigs, starting out in Canada and ending up all over the world. Last year, the Montreal artist toured with Madonna.The popularity of Kaytranada's "If" edit is easy to understand.
It was an unofficial remix of Janet Jackson's 'If' that saw Kaytranada break out into the wider hip-hop consciousness back in the autumn of 2012. By sanding down guitarist Terry Lewis' rough instrumentation and pushing an undulating, house-inflected bass groove up into centre stage, the Montreal-raised producer rebooted the industrial R&B epic into a salacious, chill house banger that felt built for long drives on summer days that don't matter. Since then, the beatsmith has made ginormous strides, as evidenced by the selection box of co-collaborators on his long-anticipated debut album, 99.9%.
Montreal producer-DJ-electronic musician Kaytranada’s debut album is a collage that runs from sparsely arranged hip-hop to smooth R&B to old school instrumental techno. Even though he doesn’t do every genre he attempts equally skillfully, there’s a pop music core to most of these songs that keeps 99.9% listenable throughout. The best Kaytranada has to offer comes early on 99.9%, with two consecutive but very different tracks.
The debut by name-to-drop Montreal producer Kaytranada (drop it thus: Kaytra-NAH-duh) is a millennial collection that flares its nostrils at genre. On paper, the Haitian-born Louis Celestin is a hip-hop-head turned remixer, gaining traction from reworking Janet Jackson. These slightly disjointed 15 tracks provide ample evidence of 360-degree skills, of house and funk steals, often undercut with the clattery skip of bass music.
Bundle his previous Kaytranada releases with those put out on the Kaytradamus moniker, and buzzy producer Louis Kevin Celestin is as prolific as they come. But at the age of twenty-three, ’99.9%’ is his first major work released in the spotlight, a debut album proper where he stamps his trademark on skittering, inventive electronics. Kay treats the big-deal occasion like one big party, inviting guests AlunaGeorge, Anderson .Paak and Little Dragon like he’s hosting a blog-pop red carpet.
No matter how hard producers may try, there’s something that will always feel completely inhuman about electronic music. It’s in the details, which is to say that they’re all perfect. The computer-aided genre is practically a glass-half-full demonstration of science versus human art. What happens when you create art using the meticulously fine-tuned exactness of science? Electronic music, apparently.
The month of May certainly didn't overwhelm Carl and I as much as last month did, but it was still chock-full with important releases to whet our appetites until the summer begins. Carl was also significantly more generous - though he's completely enamored by James Blake's winning streak, I ….
Few contemporary producers are wedded to a singular sound, but there’s a difference between dabbling in multiple genres and molding them into an original hybrid. Montreal producer Kaytranada achieves the latter on his stellar debut, finding the intoxicating spaces among house, hip-hop, jazz, and neo-R&B, between lush organic instrumentation and banging beats. The album’s title refers to the feeling of never being quite done, but “99.9%” oozes poise and confidence.
It's practically a cliché at this point to refer back to Kaytranada's clubby R&B rework of Janet Jackson's 1993 industrial pop banger If, but it remains a touchstone in the young Montreal beatmaker's catalogue. Not only did it establish his light 'n' smooth electro-funk aesthetic, but it's still so good - and a staple in his eclectic DJ sets. At a time when monotone bass is so prevalent, Kaytranada's vividly colourful music stands out all the more, and 99.9% further expands his sound while setting a new benchmark.