Evan Dale // May 11, 2020
Dance is therapy. For so many musicians and for so many more fans, music’s physical expression is arguably its most human form. There is nothing quite like letting go of inhibitions and self-image and letting loose to the kind of music shaped for dancing your f***ing heart out. But the term dance music itself has become a little pigeonholing to the rest of music’s stylistic soundscape. Undoubtedly, Dance music is for dancing. But then what is the rest of music for? Sitting? Crying? Drinking, smoking, laughing? Yes. All music is Dance music, just like all music is for whatever else any given listener can find themselves doing under the spell of its textural mosaic.
And yet, some musicians have a certain affinity for dance, and a certain gift for bringing it out of anyone and everyone listening. From a subconscious toe-tap or a rhythmic head nod, to a choreographed contemporary exhibition or a krump battle in the club, there are those artists whose music is so danceable that whether or not a listener is consciously making the effort, their body is moving to the music, nonetheless.
How They Compare
A Sonic Texture that Begs Listeners to Dance
Experimental Artists Whose Music Transcends Genre
Roots in Multiple Cultures
From Ghanaian roots, the UK birthed the diasporic, poetic gift of Kojey Radical. The spoken-word poet, rapper, singer, fashion designer, and all-around super creative is as enigmatic in his craft as he is open about the personal experiences that drive its course. And over the course of the last year alone – a calendar the included a number of features, singles, and video releases all surrounding the indescribable nature of his artistry at its most grandiose form – Cashmere Tears – Kojey Radical has continued to dance. It’s the central theme to his crowning collection to this point. And though the 27-year-old surely has at least a shining few decades to come, his love for dance – and the therapy it provides him – will likely never fade.
Cashmere Tears is as indescribable as full-length albums get. Timeless as it is without genre, the project is a meandering 10-track display that taps the realms of hip-hop, spoken-word, funk, jazz, soul, and R&B, blending them into a sonic space that could only be described as Kojey. End to end, the auditory aesthetic of Kojey is tethered akin by an underlying urge to get his listeners out of their seats, out of their heads, and into the freeing world of dance. From the moment he dropped 2018 short film, Water, a subsequent direction not led by specific stylistic tenants of the past, but by the sometimes interpretive, other times choreographed movements it inspires, Kojey Radical’s music is undoubtedly music to dance to. Just check out his videos for Cashmere Tears, Can’t Go Back, 20/20, and Coming Home, or his performance for COLORS, and you’ll get the point, as well as the compulsion to tango.
From Haitian roots, Montreal brought the world KAYTRANADA. The tropical house DJ and producer to the stars is largely to thank for inspiring a renaissance of blending between hip-hop, R&B, funk, soul, and reggae with his own electronic lane. And he has had nothing but success since the release of his debut album, 99.9% led him down the path of jealousy-inducing collaborations with some of the world’s most sought after talent, and jealousy-inducing tours to some of the world’s most sought-after destination festivals. His music – though the definition of Dance Music even at its most pigeonholing scale – is different than most electronic music available to the world today. And that’s because of the immense range of talented artists that he always enlists for his craft.
With his sophomore project, 2019’s BUBBA, KAYTRANADA took the sound he had largely invented, and mastered it at new heights. A perfectly danceable, sittable, drinkable, smokable, anything-able album collection for any place, KAYTRANADA’s BUBBA – like Kojey Radical’s Cashmere Tears – is an album for everyone, for anytime, and for any occasion, albeit rooted in the beauty and undeniability of dance.
How They Contrast
British-Ghanaian Rapper & Vocalist
Haitian-Canadain House DJ & Producer
Kojey Radical and KAYTRANADA exist by their very artistic natures in the perfect balance of creative juxtaposition. Though their sounds are similar in their emotional breadth, their experimental push, and their evocativeness to dance, one is a front man and the other a producer. The contrast is all skillset oriented, not leaving out between the two of them a single part of the creative process. And concerning their two sounds – both extremely malleable in their fluid stylistic lanes – a built-in desire to always work with the sounds of new artists would allow their contrasting musicianship to thrive at a scale even greater than their prior work – already some of the most important of the modern cloth.
Proof in the Past
Both Kojey Radical and KAYTRANADA’s existing canons to this point are heavily influenced by the direction of collaboration. In fact, both of them are largely reliant on it – at least in terms of collaborating rapper to producer, producer to vocalist.
Take a look at BUBBA – KAYTRANADA’s 17-track masterpiece that sees all but two tracks highlighting the vocal and lyrical work of at least on featuring guest spot. The Montreal producer is able to curate specifically for his friends, exhibiting his acquiescent compositional ability to adhere to the strengths of some of the world’s most notable artists. The result is a wide-ranging, transcendent, heavily collaborated album that for many of the artists involved, is home to their most creative, bold track to date. With Iman Omari, SiR, Mick Jenkins, Kali Uchis, Masego, VanJess, Estelle, Charlotte Day Wilson, GoldLink, Ari PenSmith, Durand Bernarr, Teedra Moses, Tinashe, and Pharrell gracing BUBBA’s credits, it’s hard to come up with a name whose sound would fit better while simultaneously pulling KAYTRANADA into a new experimental space, than that of Kojey Radical.
Kojey’s collaborative past is one brimming with unique producers, vocalists, lyricists, and rappers alike. But for the sake of a prospective collaboration between he and KAYTRANADA, his work with UK super producer, Swindle, and Dutch experimentalist, Jarreau Vandal is likely the most relevant. Can’t Go Back and Nothing Nice respectively put on display Kojey’s ability to use different elements of his wide-ranging aesthetic to adhere to the sound of a track’s overseeing production. He can rap, he can sing, he can recite bouts of hard-hitting emotion, and he can pursue all of them through a variety of differentiating vocal play. One of the broader musical talents in music today, he is an experimental producer’s dream come true.
How They Collaborate
This episode feels hand-picked. This collaboration just feels right. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s probably going to happen at some point in the not-so-near future. KAYTRANADA has blown up since the release of 99.9%, but he’s never lost touch with the mosaic of up-and-coming talent whose sound would work best alongside his own, and whose talent would challenge him to keep evolving as a producer. Kojey Radical is amidst that glow-up as we speak. With Cashmere Tears haven’t sent waves of his imminent presence through just about every stylistic medium in music, one perhaps untapped to this point would be an electronically led direction. And by no measure is there a producer more suited for the task of shining Kojey’s sound in a new light than KAYTRANADA.
Whether a simple single to start or an Anderson .Paak – Knxwledge-esque project in full, Kojey Radical and KAYTRANADA can – and will – change music together.