At the start of April, Louis Kevin Celestin – the artist currently known as Kaytranada - gave The Fader his most searingly honest interview to date. In it, he described his state of mind at times: “My mom would always say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” he remembers. “I was hella depressed.”
Later in the piece, he would discuss everything from his sexuality to his current musical state of mind. (We also spotted that his Mixmag cover had pride of place at the back of his palatial living room, which only added to our general state of impress).
Ultimately, it was one of the most powerful music interviews we’d read in years: “I’ve been sad my whole life, but fuck that. I know I have good things ahead.” Whatever else has happened since those first remixes – and aside from the Mixmag cover, a quick remix roll call would included mixes for Janet Jackson, Disclosure and Aluna George, some official, others less so – has clearly fuelled his musical spirit, because the sprightly r ‘n’ b, hip hop, Neptunes and house-inspired album he’s turned in (a genre he and his brother jokingly call “black tropical house”) is going to be huge.
This album has been on repeat since it first arrived on our desk back in March: whatever way you look or listen to it, ’99.9%’ is going to go down like SBTRKT’s self-titled debut.
Bold, bright and bursting with distinctive production touches, it makes smart use of all of its guests without letting them take over the record. Craig David sounds positively Michael Jackson-esque on ‘Got It Good’, ‘Together’ with AlunaGeorge and Goldlink is superior tropical r ‘n’ b of the highest order, ‘Drive Me Crazy’ with Vic Mensa is one for the contemporary hip hop heads and ‘Glowed Up’ sees Anderson.Paak provide the perfect foil (“Bitch don’t I look like a Pharaoh!”) to Kay’s Chad Hugo-fuelled synth parts: we can only hope he’s called on to produce the next Anderson solo album.
And even minus guests, wildly melodic jams like ‘Breakdance Lesson N. 1’ and the Gilles Peterson soul-jazz vibes of ‘Despite The Weather’ display a playful, melodic hip-pop sound that are enriched by repeat play. And like SBRKT with ‘Wildfire’ back in 2011, Yukimi brings sweet, soul-flecked goodness to a darker subject matter (“sun don’t shine/and we all know why, bullets will fly”) on the topical, tropical ‘Bullets’.
From where we’re standing, this is the debut album of the year.