Album Review: Kaytranada – Bubba

Bubba

House is one of those categories on streaming platforms suspiciously full of those made up artists who aren’t really artists: easy to do, it’s much more difficult to do well.

For Louis Keven Celestin however, it’s been much more of a way out that just holing up against the reality of being a jobbing musician. Born in Haiti, his parents moved to Canada when he was a baby, and after their divorce there were never the trust-funded luxuries of the performing arts school class. Starting out under the alias Kaytradamus, the big breakthrough came in 2012 with his sparkling, bass-heavy remix of Janet Jackson’s If, followed by a well-received debut album 99.9% four years later.

Not that the exposure has made Celestin any more willing to play the game: interviews are rare and in the past in them he’s focussed on that humble upbringing, some difficult school days and sharing a love of hip-hop divinity such as a Tribe Called Quest with his younger brother. Respect is earned not given though, and in the here and now Bubba’s star-studded roster of guest collaborators – including Tinashe, Pharrell, Kali Uchis and many more – speak eloquently of a producer whose reputation is assured enough to bring dance music’s glitterati to the yard.

Bubba perhaps intentionally has the feel of a mixtape in its purest sense. Sometimes when committing to record a stream of ideas which sound great in the DJ booth of the mind instinct rules over continuity, but from the languid beats of opener Do It to the languid, Williams upscaled closer Midsection, everything here is on the money, a needle deep in the groove so centered it almost seems wrong to break away from it.

These are bangers then, but in a more relaxed, feet-up-on-the-sofa style: 2 The Music floats mellifluously over seductive keys, Iman Omari’s lilting, expertly treated vocals a good times map with directions, while going up through the gears effortlessly, Go DJ’s refrain, “The blunt still burnin’, the clock still turnin’, The waist keep windin’ while her ass keep twerkin”, is the kind of dirty-yet-happy shout out anyone would love to give.

It’s a warm, smart but sassy contour which, with the exception of a couple of wallflower instrumentals in Puff Lah and Scared To Death, gives those with the mic in hand a platform to bounce right off, Uchis pretty much stealing the show on the imperious hustler disco of 10%, Teedra Moses strutting her diva creds on Culture, while for the boys Mick Jenkins rhymes voraciously over the go ahead beats of Gray Area.

Bubba is a rare hybrid, one produced by an artist who still clearly feels that this is his calling, whether the hunger still bites, or the need is still to pay the rent.

Tough, tender, warm and dancing all night long, here is the work of someone home alone with you or a thousand people on some sunset dancefloor, anywhere.

8/10

Andy Peterson

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