Kaytranada has been letting the beat build. The Haitian-born, Montreal-based producer first blipped into the national music consciousness in 2012 with an uncanny remix of Janet Jackson’s “If” that racked up millions of plays on Soundcloud, and the producer—born Kevin Celestin—has been steadily stacking up dancefloor hits and lowkey rap and pop collaborations ever since. There were no gimmicks, no superstar label cosigns (though several admitted being fans), none of the typical industry bullshit—just this 23-year-old beatmaker steadily hitting three-point swish productions like the Steph Curry of the electronic scene. “Warrior” seems like an apt word for how prolific and consistent Celestin has been on his rise to the top—but remixes, features, and DJ sets are only half the battle. Every producer eventually needs to establish their own foundation, ink a sonic thumbprint on the current era: 99.9% is that thumbprint.
As has become the custom for emerging Soundcloud producers, Kaytranada has released several compilations, EPs, and singles before this album, a majority of them under his previous moniker Kaytradamus. 99.9% is his first full-length for the boutique indie label XL known for stringency and devotion to preserving artistic intent when it comes to selecting artists. If that early Janet Jackson remix typifies Celestin’s knack for imbuing itchy, unstoppable rhythm into soulful, more traditional melodies, then 99.9% cements that form—which he’s occasionally referred to as “uptempo new soul”—into a golden template. Kaytranada has publicly grimaced a bit at the current state of EDM and trap; after listening to 99.9% his disdain seems warranted. Those genres sound tired and worn next to this record’s gleaming, soulful self-assurance.
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