Over the past few years, Haitian born Montreal producer KAYTRANADA (Louis Kevin Celestin) has been one of the most sought after producers for the avant-garde artist, the likes of Vic Mensa, Talib Kweli, Chance the Rapper, Anderson .Paak and The Internet have found their sound matching his musical style. After racking up millions of plays on streaming sites, KAYTRANADA has arrived, an artist of the digital age whose close attention to detail will keep listeners bopping their heads throughout.The 23 year-old bends shifts and doubles back on drums in his music and shows himself to be a connoisseur on both instrumental lead and artist based songs. Whether working within the strands of hip hop, funk, jazz or house, Celestin has managed to manipulate electronic music to suit his own individual confines, with inspiration deriving from his Haitian roots, and evidence of a perpetual focus on intricate and complex rhythms, as well as a willingness to incorporate various countries home-grown styles into a more contemporary cohesive whole, 99.9% proves to be a veritable crowd pleaser, as well as establishing a well-defined sound for the Canadian beat maker.
Celestin’s prowess shines on this record, many of the tracks being largely down tempo with complex layers of synths that give off a chill-hop/chill wave feel, this is as especially evident on the album opener “Track Uno” where relentless polyrhythmic drum patterns and smooth rhythms emphasize a euphoric tone that is mirrored throughout the album and follows into the second track “Bus Ride” an emphatic instrumental piece that features fellow Canadian River Tiber and legendary jazz drummer Karriem Riggins. Collaborations are all over this record however there is little to worry as it helps that he makes his entire collaborators look good: The Internet’s Syd has never sounded as powerful as on “You’re the One”, Craig David sounds like he barely left on “Got It Good”. And Vic Mensa’s “Drive Me Crazy” hits one of his better flows in recent memory. The stand out track “Glowed Up” featuring Anderson. Paak, complements both artists in separate ways, KAYTRANADA’s jazz infused bass house vibe is matched step for step with Paak’s airy vocals layered on top, the track exemplifies Paak’s skills as a rapper and a singer respectively, emphasizing just how much Kaytranada can accomplish with a similarly creative collaborator.
Only four of the album’s fifteen tracks do not feature a guest, but even without any company, KAYTRANADA displays plenty of range. His most impressive solo cut is “Lite Spots,” a pumping house inspired rework of Gal Costa’s 1973 track, “Pontos De Luz”, taking advantage of the abrupt shifts in tempo in Costa’s original vocal, and assembling a circle of hand claps and shifting bass notes solidifies this track as a house party classic.
All in all whilst there are more impressive mixtapes from beat-centric artists, few transcend the category, and even less are able to inject the type of energy needed to break up a monotonous string of slower songs. This can be largely attributed to Kaytranada’s background as a DJ background, as he seems to have complete control over the proverbial dance floor, switching up tempos to match the crowd’s mood throughout the 15-track album, preventing 99.9% from feeling bloated and is yet another reason Kaytranada’s debut album is a resounding success.