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May 29, 2016 | by  | in Music |
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Kaytranada: 99.9%

★★★★½

Kaytranada’s 99.9% is a spellbinding work, one which reflects a culmination of the vibrant jazz, disco, electronic, and hip-hop scene which is so sought after as of late. Boasting incredible features, including the mighty Craig David, Kaytranada brings out the best in all of them. His debut record illustrates his immense talent as a producer and beat maker, but more so as an artist who works alongside the grain whilst simultaneously challenging its constituent elements.

Kaytranada delivers a stunning opening track aptly titled “Track Uno.” It relies heavily on his ability to create slick, danceable songs with interesting synths, that together compound to a full, hearty sound. The few songs on this album that are without a feature prove the capability of his work without accompaniment. The album as a whole is constructed in a way that allows each track to flow into the next.

Bus Ride” has strong features from River Tiber and Karriem Riggins. The interplay between Karriem’s polyrhythmic askew drumming and Kaytranda’s tempered steady rhythm really sold this track for me. It reminds me of such albums as Dilla Joints (Dilla Joints / The Roots) where the timing is played around with, to great success and confusion.

Arguably one of the strongest tracks from this album would be “Got it Good” featuring  Craig David. The strong but soothing vocals from David shows he has not lost his touch despite a decade of inactivity. Kaytranada works to David’s strengths, with strong synths and a, for lack of a better term, PHAT backbeat.

“Together” (featuring AlunaGeorge and Goldlink) and “Drive Me Crazy” (featuring Vic Mensa) are the two tracks that have the strongest connection between them, and it’s almost easy to forget they are two different songs until you hear Vic Mensa’s voice above the instrumental foliage stating “yeah, see the street lights? I ain’t slept in like 48. Let’s start!” Kaytranada’s work with Vic Mensa is phenomenal, bringing distorted synths and a heavy synth bass in after Vic yells, “Watch yo mouth!” into the void.

“Weight Off” (featuring BadBadNotGood) is the only purely instrumental feature track, but the cutting and cropping of Sowinski’s drums is some of the best production work I’ve heard. Cuts that are succinct but fall off make the beat bang like nothing else, and this is as close as you’ll get to an instrumental jazzy club banger.

The feature with Phonte, “One Too Many” is in my opinion possibly the weakest song on the album. My measure being that it lacks the ability to be listened to repeatedly, but is by no means a bad song in its own right.

“Glowed Up” (featuring Anderson .Paak) is one of my personal favourites on the record, with unexplainable alien-esque synths and yet more PHAT beats. Kaytranada is clearly a purveyor of this elusive combination of sounds, as the outro to this track has beautiful lulling tones, and Anderson .Paak croons lines like, “not just another name, not just some wannabe, in the hands of love, just like I wanna be.”

My final favourite was “Lite Spots” which has the cutest video that shows off Kaytranada’s dancing skills alongside a dancing robot. For me, “Lite Spot” encapsulates all that is great about this album. Blistering disco highs, light jazzy undertones, well used samples, phenomenal drums, and an iconic sound that sticks in your head that for once, you don’t think is shit. I urge you to listen to the rest of the album, particularly with the talented features in the second half of the record including Shay Lia, Syd tha Kyd, and Little Dragon. Though there have been a lot of releases recently, this is definitely not one to skim over.

 

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