Kaytranada, formerly Kaytradamus, is at 99.9%. Even though he’s not fully loaded, he’s packing magical tracks that don’t seem to lose mana. The Haitian Montreal native has been among the many underground beatsmiths paving the path. Conjuring his own sounds and remixing classic R&B, hip-hop and pop tunes, he is in a lane of his own, and his debut album expresses what many have fallen in love with.
His remixed production of Janet Jackson’s “If” put him in the ears of many, and personally gripped me, with its head nodding house groove. And when he released “Drive Me Crazy” featuring Vic Mensa, hip-hop fans paid attention. On this album, everything is unique and yet still cohesive as his signature sound ripples through every track. There is definitely a mysticism that drips from his chord progressions on various tracks. Strumming synths and a bass that perpetually drives you to sway. His most recent single “Glowed Up” featuring Anderson Paak is a downtempo fairytale walk with aliens. It’s a perfect match up since Paak is so experimental with his sound in the R&B world. But other guest features don’t stop there. AlunaGeorge’s Aluna and rapper Goldlink make an appearance on “Together” that gives a real 80’s R&B chill sound and yet still sounds so modern. The album is airy, promoting good vibes and is right on time for the summer sun.
I think what’s most refreshing about this album, and him as an artist, is that he’s teaming up with other producers who share eclectic sounds of their own. River Tiber infuses his Radiohead sound with Kaytranada in order to make a heavenly ballad that feels more like a trip down a fresh stream in “Bus Ride,” even if it’s wordless. But on the track “Vivid Dreams,” River Tiber offers his vocals and a seductively melodic hum over a lightly seasoned Brazilian funk rhythm. It has been on repeat for days. BADBADNOTGOOD and The Internet’s Syd make appearances as well. They all bring with them their musicality that is setting them apart in a world of mediocrity and similarity.
This album offers a genuine ride through the mind of a musical magician. It takes plenty of risks by coming out while Drake’s “Views” is still being blasted and featuring artists that are up-and-coming as well. However, Kaytra recently took another risk like Syd and came out as gay when talking about struggling to be who he was and creating music. The hip-hop world has been known to not be all that accepting of “the gay thing.” But Kaytra stepping into the game and demanding respect just through his music alone might usher in the era of hip-hop we need. First J.Cole and Kendrick bringing back that realness, and now, Kaytra. If you enjoy artists like Flying Lotus, Pomo, Machinedrum and Mr. Carmack, I’m certain you’ll cut up to Kaytra.