Kaytranada BUBBA RCA Records
Kaytranda’s Polaris Prize-winning debut 99.9% came seemingly out of nowhere. The album shot through the mid-10’s R&B scene like a bat out of hell, featuring now-era-defining collaborations with everyone from Anderson .Paak to Little Dragon to the most elusive of early 00s legends, Craig David. The wait for a follow-up has been a long one, and the risk of a veritable sophomore slump is more than real – so, a lot is riding on BUBBA, and Kaytranada knows this.
This is maximal R&B; 17 tracks of layer upon layer of soul, funk, disco and pop, whose mission statement is to fully embody the idiom ‘go big or go home’. The only real criticism of this approach of more-is-more production value is that these kind of mammoth records can be prone to filler, and unfortunately, there are a few less than stellar moments on BUBBA that could have easily been sacrificed to the cutting room floor (for example, the 1:53-minute lite-funk exercise Puff Lah goes nowhere fast). But when Kaytranada delivers, it’s a banger for the ages: 10% with its rolling funk and surely soon-to-be-cult lyric, “You keep on taking from me/ But where’s my 10%?” casts critical darling Kali Uchis as a fed-up lover in the grand style of the most dramatic disco divas.
BUBBA’s best tracks cull from Kaytranada’s deep understanding of black music past and present, like Go DJ, which makes great use of skittering backbeats and scintillating synthesizers that look to history. BUBBA may not be Kaytranada’s final form, but we know what he is capable of – and as a step in his fascinating evolution as one of this decade’s most important R&B producers, it delivers.