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Kaytranada '99.9%' review

Oskar Rice questions Kaytra's transition from website to wax on latest record '99.9%'.

Ben Smith

Date published: 11th May 2016

Image: Kaytranada

On the face of it, 23 year old Kevin Celestin, better known as Kaytranada, is the figurehead of soundcloud beat makers: churning out funky bootleg remixes and captivating millions of users with regular up-tempo neo-soul edits of classic hip hop and r&b bangers that he makes in his parents basement.

Whilst this has attracted him over 433,000 followers there is one question that remains to be answered, can this generation X beat king make the transition from website to wax?

Kaytranada’s 99.9% opens with the appropriately named ‘Track Uno’. Picking up exactly where his soundcloud left off, this track features Kaytra’s signature blend of butter smooth drums laid over a loosely chopped disco sample. Most importantly this track sets the scene, it's a reminder of where the beatmaker left off.

Immediately following the opener is ‘Bus Ride’ featuring Karriem Riggins and River Tiber, and instantly you get the sense that Kaytra is trying to prove that he’s not just capable of making bootleg bangers, but that he also is capable of being a producer in the more traditional sense.

This is a sentiment which is echoed throughout the record, especially on tracks like ‘Got It Good’, ‘You’re The One’, and his magnificent collaboration with Anderson .Paak ‘Glowed Up’ (listen below). Whilst retaining that familiar sound that fans will be used to, these tracks are more fleshed out, professional collaborations which have appeal outside of club environments, giving them more shelf life than your average soundcloud edit.

The approach to sampling throughout the album is extremely reminiscent of late 90’s, early 2000’s era hip hop. Not only in source material, borrowing predominantly from what sounds like disco 45”s, but also in processing. Celestin is not shy of bringing the samples to the front of the mix and chops them in a way that is not dissimilar to the J Dilla’s and Pete Rocks of the hip hop world.

Again the inclusion of several, sample heavy, tie over, interlude tracks such as ‘Despite the Weather’, which would not be out of place on a Madlib album, gives this dance inspired album a very hip hop feel.

However, one criticism of the album is its somewhat disjointed flow. Towards the end of the LP some fantastic transitions between numbers - especially between ‘You’re The One’ and ‘Vivid Dreams’ - keep the listener on track. Whilst at other points, every time some form of continuity is developed it is immediately thrown away in favour of a new direction. Perhaps this is symptomatic of an album which draws from so many different genres?

Overall, this album is a very clear step from an emerging artist, to fully fledged producer and Kaytranada has done well to avoid the mainstream trappings that emerging acts signed to major labels often fall into - developing his own sound in a truly underground sense on this project.

Throughout the album there's little audio snippets of interviews about the producer. The last one, featured at the end of ‘Leave Me Alone’ features Guy and Howard of Disclosure describing Kaytranada as musicality meeting beats, and thats exactly what this album has achieved. Not bad for a producer who makes beats in his parents basement.

Like this? Read our review of JMSN 'It Is'