If Kaytranada’s debut album, 99.9%, was full of the trepidation that comes with trying out new styles to see which one fits, BUBBA sees the Haitian-Canadian producer in a much more cohesive mode. This record feels like a disco mix, with tracks flipping seamlessly into each other, and the guests are picked less for celebrity value and more for their compatibility with Kaytranada’s sound.
10% featuring Kali Uchis is a highlight, with a sizzling West End Records loop and Kali’s lyrics demanding comeuppance (“You keep on taking from me but where’s my 10%? / You keep on taking from me, I wonder where you went”), while The Worst In Me with Tinashe bounces along with an irresistably rubbery bass and a catchy hook giving the track what was once called ‘crossover potential’. Eight9fly and Ari PenSmith give Vex Oh an Afrobeats feel, while Go DJ sees SiR delivering slick verses over a J Dilla-esque beat, but these sounds all feel perfectly natural.
The sound design throughout is what we’ve come to expect: popping percussion, synths that melt like butter and a healthy dose of sidechain to make everything bump. Sprinkled around BUBBA are instrumental passages that keep the record flowing in characterful fashion, whether it be the shimmering electric piano and breakbeat vibes of DO IT or Scared To Death’s filter work which brings back memories of vintage French house, but Kaytranada has (mostly) struck such a balance that his production talents still shine through on the vocal tracks.
The one unfortunate misstep is the Pharrell-featuring Midsection, which takes a promising groove then derails it with a tacky hook that feels cut and pasted into the track. But this is a rare bum note in a record that’s packed with goodies and effortlessly cool.