“When I make a good beat, I’m possessed,” says Kaytranada, 23. “I’m not on earth!” The Haiti-born, Montreal-based DJ-producer’s fans, such as Madonna (who had him open for select dates on her Rebel Heart Tour), likely feel similarly transported by his eclectic music, which blends Chicago house, Detroit hip-hop, Philly soul and more. After making his name with SoundCloud remixes and songs with Talib Kweli, Pusha T, The Internet and many more, Kaytranada flexes his Rolodex once again on his full-length debut, 99.9% (May 6, XL Recordings). He and a few of his many collaborators explain how it sometimes takes a village to make a great album.
Meet the rising beatmaker’s all-star roster of cool-kid collaborators.
Kaytranada and this 22-year-old Washington, D.C., MC-singer, who has worked with Rick Rubin and toured with Mac Miller, have recorded together before (see 2014’s “Sober Thoughts”), but it was Francis who pushed him to kick a dexterous rap on “Together.” “GoldLink was watching me record,” she says. “I looked at him and yelled, ‘Get off your ass and in the vocal booth!'”
The 34-year-old British soul veteran gives “Got It Good” an “early-2000s R&B touch — not everybody has that today,” says Kaytranada, who lists other neo-soul-era singers as dream duets: “Amel Larrieux, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu. I almost had [Badu] on the album — she was busy, but it’s OK. I can’t give people too much at the same time!”
2016 is shaping up to be a breakthrough year for the Dr. Dre protege, 30, who released the acclaimed Malibu and recently collaborated with Macklemore and Snakehips. His rap-sung vocals made “Glowed Up”; an easy single choice, says Kaytranada. “We haven’t even met yet. I emailed him a lot of beats, and he killed it every time. We have over 10 songs done. It’s crazy!”
The frontwoman of Swedish electronic ensemble Little Dragon got hip to Kaytranada after hearing his remix of Janet Jackson‘s “If” (more than 5 million SoundCloud plays). “I was blown away by what he was doing,” says Nagano, 34, who sings on “Bullets.” “He sent a bunch of beats — really good ones! I was a bit overwhelmed. I wanted to write to so much.”
After Francis’ electro-soul duo AlunaGeorge recruited Kaytranada to remix its song “Kaleidoscope Love,” the London singer, 28, returned the favor on the disco-fied “Together.” “We recorded it on the fly at 2:30 a.m. — Kaytranada had just done a set in London,” she recalls. “I love how he uses the feel of funk with a modern twist. It feels fresh, not redone.”
The Detroit native, 40, is rap’s fave drummer-producer after Questlove, with credits for Kanye West and Common; he plays drums on “Bus Ride.” “It’s easier to collaborate with instrumentalists than singers; they know exactly the sound that I need,” says Kaytranada. “Karriem is open to my ideas — it’s a chemistry thing. We understand exactly what vibe we’re on.”
This article originally appeared in the May 14 issue of Billboard.