How often is it that a producer becomes an absolute star? Not often, and certainly not to the standard of Kaytranada. Sure there’s the gut-wrenching story of Louis Celestin’s recent coming out to his family (side note: hey girl heyyyy, we’re single) but that’s not what 99.9% is about. Just as his rise came from an emphasis on his beats over everything else, so to does this record play out like a party where music remains centre stage.
That’s down to both Celestin’s strength as a maker as it is his prowess directing collaborators. Where people often chuck an arsenal at vocalists to match their every word, Kaytranada lets them breathe in the punctuation between his own beats. The result is a jam like Together, which features the best use of AlunaGeorge since White Noise. Aluna sounds like an entirely different artist, mature, less showy and totally at one with the chilled bed that Kaytra provides.
Even in his skittish moments, Kaytranada seems rooted in a classic style of soul. There’s almost a smoke-alarm annoyance behind Phonte on One Too Many, but in Kaytra’s hands it pulses into a skipping-stone rhythm to back its golden flavour. And, of course, there are very few visionaries who can take a man like Craig David and completely shuck him of his gimmicky husks, bringing out the man’s purest R&B form on Got It Good.
The great thing about Celstin is that, barring this notable foot in soul sounds, his chameleonic nature makes it hard to recognise what might be a Kaytranada production. It reflects in his sound too, with the tremendous You’re The One (featuring The Internet‘s Syd) working as a party-starter, late-night club jam, turn down, and bonk-soundtrack all at once. There are few people who can make even the simplest parts of 99.9% sound so damn exciting, and there are even fewer keeping it 100 the way Kaytra does. Buy it immediately.