Track-by-Track Review: KAYTRANADA’S “99.9%”

Written by on May 12, 2016

Does the name KAYTRANADA ring a bell? Well it should because the 23 year old producer hailing from Montreal has just released his most sophisticated work yet…and lucky for us this is only the beginning.

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After years of dropping reworks of classics on soundcloud and gaining a hefty underground following, KAYTRANADA’s long awaited debut has arrived. 99.9% is electrifying, fresh and solidifies a sound that is all Kaytra’s own.

Sampling the first 15 seconds of Delegation’s “I figure I’m out of your life,” Kaytra layers an already deliciously funky beat and turns it into a dazzling dance number that’s heavy with house and disco influences. As the opening track for 99.9% , “Track Uno” gives the listener a taste of everything we’re to expect in the following 14 songs, a heavy dosage of funk, neo-soul and boundary pushing instrumentals that can’t be put into a single genre.

2. BUS RIDE (feat. Karriem Riggins and River Tiber)
Even though this track serves a quieter mood from the rest of the album, it shouldn’t be overlooked. The dance between the piano, strings and surrounding drum take the listener on an entrancing “Bus Ride” through a neighborhood where jazz and hip hop regularly converse. Breezy, soft, and wavering are three words that perfectly describe the feelings this track gives off.

3. GOT IT GOOD (feat. Craig David)

The combination of David’s silky vocals and Kaytra’s bouncy beat help propel this atypical narrative of showering your girl with gifts into something especially beautiful. I mean who wouldn’t want to hear someone tell you, “I’m certain you’re worth it, you deserve it”.

4. TOGETHER (feat. AlunaGeorge and Goldlink)
The pairing of AlunaGeorge’s delicate vocals and Goldlink’s quick tongue together in one track makes for a great juxtaposition that reflects their narration of a relationship seeking reconciliation.

5. DRIVE ME CRAZY (feat. Vic Mensa) 
Vic Mensa delivers a dizzying dose of cockiness for a whole 4 minutes and 37 seconds with lyrics like, “My competition is myself, therefore I ain’t worried ’bout no one.” This track reminds us of the effortlessly cool and dance central “Down On My Luck” Mensa.

The first thing that comes to mind is that this feels like an unreleased track from Tame Impala’s, Currents. The hypnotizing synthesizers, smooth baseline, and pulsating high-hat and drum combo create a beautiful and ethereal setting.

7. ONE TOO MANY (feat. Phonte)
Phonte lends his voice to this bouncy dance groove that speaks about the difficulties of being single, having a lot of girls and not wanting to commit. This track falls flat in comparison to everything else offered on this album, from the predictable melody to Phonte’s unconvincing rap.

As an airy ode to jazz fusion, Kaytra hits us heavy with the funk. Serving us a minute and 45 seconds of a jazz filled atmosphere, “Despite the Weather” is a great break from the hypnotism that carries throughout 99.9%. Towards the end of the track, Kaytra reveals a cheeky bit of a conversation between two people speaking about whether or not they know who Kaytranada is. It’s a funny bit to include because it speaks to Kaytra’s across the board appeal.

9. GLOWED UP (feat. Anderson .Paak)
R&B’s golden boy Anderson .Paak, graces this track with confidence wrapped in a raspy voice. “Lately I’ve been glowed up / Paper finally showed up,” .Paak and Kaytra tackle a story about leveling up and navigating through life. Around 3 minutes, .Paak exchanges his confidence for a more soulful and reflective tone, crooning lyrics like “Not just another name / Not just some wannabe.” This is a track that needs no introduction but needs all your attention.

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This track takes us back to a time where ’80’s funky guitar riffs and a heavy reliance on synthesizers as the backbone of a track was cool (to be honest it’ll always be cool as hell). Kaytrananda showcases his individuality and ability to create something that nods to a decade ruled by arpeggiated synths and crazy guitar riffs, yet he breathes new life into the familiar sound.

11. YOU’RE THE ONE (feat. Syd) 
Syd’s sultry vocals dancing over an airy production is a gift straight from the gods. Syd’s voice floats from left to right hypnotizing the listener, with lyrics like “Cause I do it for the thrill, for the rush / I do it for the pain, for your touch.” I swear this track will have you dancing like this:

12. VIVID DREAMS (feat. River Tiber)
Kaytra dives into a darker sound with this song. From the haunting background vocals to the ghostly production. “Vivid Dreams” creates a visual narrative, that is experienced through two colors: grey and purple. 

Almost immediately an Italian disco influence can be heard. This funky number was made for dancing, just watch below as Kaytra creates a robot friend who can learn choreography in seconds and have a dance off at the beach and the bus stop.

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14. LEAVE ME ALONE (feat. Shay Lia)
Released in 2014, this collaboration is just as powerful and fresh as it was then. Kaytra and Shay together craft a tune that’s lush, infectious and commands you to dance the night away.

15. BULLETS (feat. Little Dragon) 
Kaytra enlists Yukimi Nagano, better known as Little Dragon’s frontwoman, to deliver one of the best collaborations on this record. Nagano’s enchanting voice paired with the hypnotizing dance between a muffled drum and glitzy synths create an inescapable tune that will surely be stuck in your head for days. Talking about world peace and the heaviness of the world is no easy subject to tackle yet create a bouncy groove to but, Kaytra and Nagano dance over the subject with ease.

While 99.9% is feature filled, it contains a myriad of influences ranging from acid jazz to ethereal rock but never feels like there’s too many ideas happening. It’s hard to believe that this is only his first full length but that’s just the thing, this is Kaytranada at 99.9%, there’s no telling what he’s got in store for us at 100%.

Listen to: Track Uno, Bus Ride, Despite the Weather, You’re the One, Glowed Up, Bullets

Skip: One Too Many

Rating: 9.5/10


By Kris Valladares

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