KAYTRANADA's BUBBA is his Second Masterpiece in as Many Attempts
Evan Dale // Dec 13, 2019
Montreal by way of Haiti, KAYTRANADA has been a key figure to every scene his expansive music has touched for years. After nearly a half-decade of singles and experimenting with sounds sourced from the tropics, the cold north, and everywhere in between, he released his debut album to grand acclamation and nonconforming stylistic delineation in 2016. 99.9% shined KAYTRANADA beneath a light as a perfection-driven house artist and, equally, as a producer that vocalists and lyricists from around the world and the world’s many stylistic lanes were clawing over the chance to collaborate with. Amongst others, River Tiber, AlunaGeorge, GoldLink, Vic Mensa, BADBADNOTGOOD, Syd, and Anderson .Paak exhibited the range of aesthetics attracted to the bubbly and inventive overarching underline of a KAYTRANADA foundation.
Three years later, the transcendent force of collaborative excellency and tropical house minimalism is back with another project every bit as defining and massively decorated with featuring genius as his debut. BUBBA is cut from the same cloth as its predecessor with adjustments made equal parts from the shifts in KAYTRANADA’s own artistry and in music’s entirety since 2016. It is another hour-long masterpiece sure to be played for millions of hours by tens of millions of loyal fans making up not electronica, hip-hop, or R&B ears, but of each and every scene the world knows. KAYTRNADA is that rangy, all-encompassing, and bordering on omnipotent in his role as a modern composer able to tie akin modernity’s likings with the tether of his Haiti-Montreal rooted transcendentalism. And BUBBA is his second masterpiece in as many attempts.
DO IT starts off his sophomore album with a sample of his bread and butter. It’s French-reminiscent house in nature – from which both of his diasporic roots might have drawn inspiration – and towards which his own take has always been particularly percussive. Merge stylings à la Polo & Pan with those from the explosiveness of the West African Cultural Renaissance, and it’s house experimentation for the worldly, futuristic, and post-genre.
Further flashes of house-y solo fare sans features bookend the project not as interludes, intros, or conclusionary stamps, but as reminders of the depth KAYTRANADA’s roots bear and the power those roots alone have in drawing towards him some of the most sought-after names in music. Puff Lah and Scared to Death are not to be missed or passed over in an album otherwise stacked beyond what should be realistically possible.
There are names that everyone knows. Kali Uchis brings her usual bubbly soul to leading single, 10%. Masego carries his silky vocals into Need It – a danceable anthem founded in tribal percussion. Estelle shines as a jazz-founded soulstress in Oh No. Charlotte Day Wilson evokes memories of an early Disclosure-driven era where subtle house left room for the time’s best vocalists to shine. Tinashe is a club-anthem princess in The Worst in Me. And Pharrell is Pharrell in Midsection.
There are names that everyone is beginning to recognize. SiR and KAYTRANADA pull together California Future R&B effervescence with Go DJ. Mick Jenkins puts aside his unparalleled cadence and lyricism for a funky vocal delivery in Gray Area. VanJess bring their expected throwback R&B vibes to the house-laden Taste. GoldLink and Ari PenSmith link up for the second time this year (Joke Ting) with another house anthem rooted in the cadence and direction of musical risings from The West African Cultural Renaissance.
There are names that everyone should know. Iman Omari makes 2 The Music yet another incredible collaboration added to his canon. Durand Bernarr continues his 2019 reemergence with Neo-Soul dance anthem, Freefall – our early frontrunner for favorite track throughout the entirety of BUBBA.
And then there is the inclusion of Teedra Moses – a legendary R&B force whose classic album, Complex Simplicity, is celebrating its 15-year anniversary in 2019 – and whose appearance on Culture makes it a standout even amongst the absurdity of the BUBBA lineup.
But it’s not the absurdity of the lineup that makes BUBBA what it is. Though the featuring artists are curated to perfection; though each of their performances are different and draws towards them an audience cut from a different cloth from the others; though they represent the past, present, and future of R&B, Neo-Soul, Jazz, and Hip-Hop vocalism and penmanship, BUBBA’s ability to emerge as an unparalleled mosaic of modern music exists in its foundation – in the foundation of KAYTRANADA.
There is no way to pull together such a wide-ranging swatch of artistry under one common umbrella without the genius work of a producer who understands not only each musician, but how each musician’s music can be understood and celebrated next to that of another. And from top to bottom KAYTRANADA showcases the immense beauty of modern music, setting himself at the understated backdrop as a producer who has mastered – maybe even reinvented tropical house music.
In a world where it’s easy for electronic producers to be overlooked when a fronting name acts as the voice for a track, KAYTRANADA outshines a collection of some of the most important names in music today as the force that brought them all together and allowed them to shine overtop his effortless bounce. He is that good.
BUBBA is that good.