Up until a couple months ago I had absolutely no idea who Kaytranada was. After a little bit of research, I found out that this electronic producer has had his name on several projects this year, most notably Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book and Anderson .Paak’s Malibu. This, mixed with solid word of mouth, an impressive list of featured artists and a desire to check out more electronic music from this year led me to check out 99.9%.
The best thing I could compare this to would be another electronic album from this year Skin by Flume. The two have wildly different styles of production but use a handful of the same features to create a similar vibe. The goal of this project seemed obvious me upon a first listen. Like Flume, Kaytranada is taking several genres that are hot for the festival crowds and incorporating them into his production. The question then is, does he do it as well as Flume? Short answer, no. Longer answer, this is still a fantastic release that deserves to be checked out.
What Kaytranada is able to excel at here is producing music that works well with each of the artists that show up on here. Right from his track with Craig David we get production that sounds straight out of the early 2000s when he was at the peak of his career. This throwback sound, mixed with David’s classic delivery makes this one of the best R&B throwbacks of the year.
Kaytranada’s abilities as an R&B producer are also shown on “One Too Many” with Phonte. As someone who has listened to very little Phonte, I did not have a problem with the fact that he did not rap like he usually does. His singing voice actually worked well, in my opinion.
But of all the R&B tracks, none touch what Anderson .Paak brings to this project with “Glowed Up.” This track just reminded me why .Paak is one of the most recognizable and talented we have out now, which says so much considering how new he is to most audiences. It was interesting to hear his rough vocals with electronic production like this. It gives me hope that maybe some more Anderson .Paak songs like this will come out in the near future.
While there was not as much hip-hop on here as I would have liked, I do think this is where Kaytranada is at his best, what is here works. Vic Mensa tops his work on Skin with his feature on “Drive Me Crazy.” Mensa has strong on his flow which works well with the smoother production Kaytranada gives to him. He does better than Goldlink who is the only guest here I feel got lost in the production of his song. It also does not help that I feel that AlunaGeorge’s work before him on the track is superior and works much better.
The instrumentals on here I thought worked for the most part. While it lasts far too long, the opener “Track Uno” has a fun beat to it. “Breakdance Lesson N.1” was another very danceable track on here that I highly enjoyed. “Bus Ride” could have gone on for longer and featured some great jazzy sounds from Karriem Riggins. I only wish that BadBadNotGood had gotten a chance to do more on their track on here.
My main problem with this album comes with Kaytranada himself in many ways. While he does a great job of working with all these artists, he sometimes does not feel like much of a presence as I think he should have. There is no sharply distinct sound from him just solid production. The songs all sound great, but Kaytranada does not stand out on them.
Fans of electronic production will find tracks to like here. And maybe even a few to love. This is the camp I fall into here. I think Kaytranada created an impressive debut album here filled with many artists that he works excellently with. I feel that this record will definitely work well at giving Kaytranada more work in the future and hopefully help him improve his sound into something more recognizable and then he might really blow us away.
Best Tracks: Got It Good, Drive Me Crazy, One Too Many, Glowed Up, You’re the One, Bullets
Worst Track: Lite Spots