Canadian producer Kaytranada is one of the hottest names in the electronic/neo-soul scene right now. With an instantly recognisable production sound, and a knack for mashing disco, house and hip-hop impeccably. He has finally released his debut album after years of his fans clamouring for more than just sporadic original songs and remixes. This album hits all the right notes, and has some incredible features from amazing singers, musicians and producers, including Craig David, Syd, AlunaGeorge and Anderson Paak. 99.9% is thoroughly satisfying from beginning to end, and an all-round incredible album.
The album opens with ‘Track Uno’; a bouncy, 80s-influenced banger that’s filled with all of the production stylings you’d expect from a Kaytranada song: monstrous drum production and strong synth pads. The next track, ‘Bus Stop’, shows off Kaytranada’s hip-hop production chops, with a little help from singer/producer River Tiber and amazing jazz drummer, Karriem Riggins. I personally really like that Kaytranada opened the album with a couple of instrumental songs, and that he has a few scattered throughout the album, too. It allows listeners to focus on his production skills and not just on the vocals and melody, which people tend to do inherently. Track three, ‘Got It Good’, features Craig David (not someone I expected to appear on an album like this, if I’m honest). Yes, it deserves a couple of exclamation marks, because it’s pretty awesome. ‘Got It Good’ is a reimagining of ‘90s R’n’b produced in typical Kaytranada fashion: it’s got the typical thumping drums, displaced rhythms, bright and punchy synths reminiscent of Boyz II Men, and funky-ass bass. This is only the first of many tracks on the album with A-list vocal talent featuring. AlunaGeorge and GoldLink are up next on ‘Together’, a track full to the brim with disco-influences, ranging from the beat and floaty synth sequences to the vocal production.
If this album didn’t have you moving your feet and dancing before this song, then it will from here on out. In quick succession, there are cameos from Vic Mensa on trap track ‘Drive Me Crazy’, instrumental hip-hop/funk from BADBADNOTGOOD on ‘Weight Off”, and my personal favourite track, ‘One Too Many’. Featuring vocals and rapping from Phonte, ‘One Too Many’ is an awesome feel-good track, and mashes together elements of house, neo-soul and disco. The next feature is the super-hot-right-now rapper/singer Anderson Paak, who gets down on the epic ‘Glowed Up’. The track starts out as a dark, hazy hip-hop banger led by Paak’s raps and haunting synth lines, but suddenly changes feel and breaks down about two-thirds through. The track starts to groove on a neo-soul beat and funky bass line and saunters before suddenly stopping. Before you can even fathom what’s gone down in ‘Glowed Up’, Kaytranada flexes his production chops again and hits you with another ‘80s-influenced house track. ‘Breakdance Lesson N.1’ is a non-stop banger that grooves on harmonised guitar lines and funky drumming, with little breakdowns for samples and synth pads.
This album just doesn’t let up. By track 11, you’re left wondering if there’s going to be slower-tempo grooves and some time to breath – NOPE. This album just keeps hitting you with banger after banger. I think it’s a testament to Kaytranada’s production skills and song writing that he’s able to craft an album as heavy as this, whilst ensuring each song is interesting and individual in it’s own right. The album’s last few tracks include some amazing features, including Syd of The Internet on neo-soul/house track ‘You’re The One’, River Tiber on dark house banger ‘Vivid Dreams’, Shay Lia on ‘Leave Me Alone’ and Little Dragon on the funky album closer, ‘Bullets’.
I’m a sucker for a good slow-jam, and I think this album could’ve done with a mid-album breather or two, but it honestly doesn’t fuss me that much, because this album is that good. It is, honestly, almost perfect. I know that’s a big statement, but I really believe it. I have listened to it front-to-back at least 10 times already, and I can guarantee I’ll still be listening to it in a month’s time. Kaytranada is a genius, and I can’t wait to see him perform live and hear what he has in store for us next.
99.9% is available now via XL Recordings.