Published Dec 13, 2019Two words were enough to send the internet into a frenzy late last month: "album. finito." A tweet, issued by Montreal-based Kaytranada, signalled the release of the producer's much-anticipated sophomore album, following the success of 2016's critically acclaimed 99.9%.
BUBBA picks up right where his Juno- and Polaris Music Prize-winning debut left off. Look no further than lead single "10%," featuring Kali Uchis, which pulses with the same signature synth layered atop melodic vocals — oozing sex appeal at every turn — that propelled the Haitian-born Kaytranada to fame. He also continues to grow his ever-widening circle of collaborators, infusing new energy and intimacy into his material. The album is an impressive 17-tracks and weaves in some of R&B's and hip-hop's most buzzworthy artists; features include Mick Jenkins, Estelle, Charlotte Day Wilson, GoldLink, Tinashe, Pharrell and VanJess.
It is no exaggeration to say that Kaytranada has helped shape electronic music in the 2010s. Aside from popping up everywhere — from opening for Madonna to remixing everyone from Erykah Badu to Janet Jackson — his ability to craft genre-bending and eclectic electronic music remains relevant and infectious. A little bit hip-hop, soul, R&B, reggae, funk, house, dance and electronic, Kaytranada has created a space where he refuses to be labeled, dodges the one-size-fits-all model and unapologetically paves his own path forward with each new track. At 27, the young artist has shown vision beyond his years and more than masterful production in studio.
Though some might argue the new album doesn't go far enough to deviate from Kaytranada's tried-and-true formula, BUBBA presents a much more cohesive effort and united front from start to finish. Filled with breezy beats, choice percussion and island influences (notably "Midsection" and "Need It"), Kaytranada does find himself leaning more heavily into certain musical styles than in the past.
Ultimately, he skilfully threads together disparate genres, artists and instrumentation to deliver a holistic rendering of music in the 21st century. While 99% provided the initial space for Kaytranada to make his mark, BUBBA is where it matures.
Kaytranada also appears on Exclaim!'s Best Canadian Albums of the 2010s as well as our Best Canadian Songs of the 2010s list. (RCA)