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Few have done more to advance woozy, hazing textures as a creative strategy than KAYTRANADA, a Montreal producer whose swerving synths and spongy funk have helped steer the course of contemporary rap, R&B and pop. Born Louis Kevin Celestin in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1992, he moved to Montreal as a child, began DJing as a teenager and was putting out his first beat tapes by the age of 18. Originally recording as Kaytradamus, he first made his name as a prolific remixer, establishing a rep for eclecticism as he put a silky spin—sometimes authorised, often not—on rappers (Drake, Clipse), indie bands (Ratatat, Justice) and R&B singers (Rihanna, Beyoncé). KAYTRANADA’s sound was already fully formed by early singles like 2013’s “At All” and 2014’s “LEAVE ME ALONE”, which paired the filter-disco flair of French touch with lurching, Dilla-esque beats and a healthy dose of Afro-Caribbean rhythm. It all came together on 2016’s 99.9%, where a varied guest list (Vic Mensa, Craig David, AlunaGeorge, Little Dragon) supported KAYTRANADA’s vision of a radically hybrid yet deeply cohesive brand of modern soul. Nowhere was it better articulated than on the single “GLOWED UP”, in which Anderson .Paak’s sandpapered croon added psychedelic shading to the already plush textures and supersaturated hues. With 2019’s BUBBA, KAYTRANADA sunk even deeper into his sweet spot, proving equally adept at writing for megastars like Pharrell as rising figures like VanJess. Confirming his beats’ self-sufficiency, he turned around and released an instrumental version of the LP the following year. “This is what I’m best at—just making instrumentals,” he told Apple Music with characteristic humility. “I’m very much of a loner. This is my comfort zone, where I make beats.”

Port-au-Prince, Haiti
25 August 1992
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