By Jamie McNamara
At only 23 years old, Montreal’s Kaytranada has become one of the most in-demand beatmakers for rappers that are looking for hazy, boom-bap beats with a distinct electronica bent. Listening to 99.9%, Kaytranada’s debut album for esteemed XL Recordings, it’s hard to deny the producer’s talent – even if some of the tracks don’t quite land.
Kaytranada’s sound has evolved into a slinky beast. His bass lines roar, they’re usually body movers, full of kinetic energy waiting to be released onto a steamy dance floor somewhere. It’s clear that Kaytranada is really tapping into the future funk/jazz movement popularized by Anderson .Paak, Flying Lotus, and Kendrick Lamar. The former even lends his talents with a confident feature on album highlight “Glowed Up.”
.Paak isn’t the only collaborator to give a stellar performance on 99.9%. London duo AlunaGeorge, Chicago rapper Vic Mensa, and even UK garage don Craig David step up to the mic. “Got It Good,” David’s track with Kaytranada, shows the producer’s ability to serve up a beat that caters right to his collaborator’s talent. It’s the perfect beat for David, whose caramel voice and slinky flows complement Kaytra’s stunted, chugging, electro-funk beat beautifully.
Elsewhere, Kaytranada’s collab with fellow Montrealers BadBadNotGood, is the work of a match made in heaven. Both camps flash their more overt jazz sensibilities on “Weight Off,” a brief venture into the instrumental hip-hop that both parties are known for.
Unfortunately, Kaytranada faces the same problem that most producers eventually do when they set out to make a full-length. His beats are designed to be rapped over, and without vocal talent to help carry the track, Kaytra finds himself with a lot of filler on the album. Instrumental tracks like “Track Uno” and “Breakdance Lesson No 1” fade into the background and don’t really fit within an otherwise tight tracklist. That’s not to say all of the producer’s instrumentals fail. “Lite Spots” is a guest free track that has a buoyant, filter house bassline that begs for vigorous head bobbing.
Despite a few missteps, 99.9% works because of Kaytra’s undeniable talent as a producer. Even when the songs don’t hit, the work put into them is evident always. Kaytranada is a rising producer, but it’s clear that 99.9% isn’t his peak, it’s just another stair on the way up to the top.99.9%, Kaytranada