HW&W - 2016
Kaytranada first blew up back in 2012 when his unofficial remix of Janet Jackson's 'If' went viral. The deejay/producer, whose real name is Louis Kevin Celestin, would spend the following three years spinning disco and funk to sold-out crowds around the world. The money - and the parties, one also presumes - were great. But the 23-year-old Montrealer known for his terminally joyous remixes of people like Jackson, Missy Elliot and M.I.A. was anything but happy.
"I was touring with Ryan Hemsworth, and I'd see him have so much fun," he told The FADER. "It was depressing for me. I was lonely." By 2015 he had had enough and told his agents to stop booking shows. Part of the problem was that what Celestin really wanted was to be home devoting more time to his music. "One day I woke up like, 'I can't do this'," he recalled. "I was like, I'm not that dude." And so he headed back to suburban Saint-Hubert, where he lives with his mother, brother and sister, to focus on making records, specifically his first full-length, 99.9%, which dropped on HW&W in Canada and internationally on XL Recordings.
There is plenty to like on 99.9%, a beat-laden hodgepodge that sports an army of contributors like Detroit-raised drummer Karriem Riggins and Toronto jazz experimentalists BadBadNotGood. Much of the record consists of fairly standard rap and r'n'b tracks, which will surely fill dancefloors from New York to Tokyo. But dig a little deeper and those critical beats and more adventurous mixes start to appear. Riggens, for instance, injects some deft drumwork into the otherwise chilled-out 'Bus Ride', while the talented BadBadNotGood do much the same to the excellent 'Weight Off' with one of their trademark loping drum and bass riffs.
But the track that really ought to prick ears internationally is 'Lite Spots', Celestin's fantastically ebullient cut-up of Gal Costa's jazz-funk workout 'Pontos de Luz', from her 1973 high-water India set. Of course, that a song which is itself a virtual paean to happiness (with lyrics like "Me sinto feliz / me sinto muito feliz / me sinto completamente feliz") was taken on by a man battling his own depressive demons is amazing enough. But that Celestin manages to slice it and dice it into something even more joyous than the original ought to have us dancing in the streets this summer. Here's hoping.
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Waves / Wash EP