May 6th: Kaytranada – 99.9%
Kaytranada’s been at this whole being-bloody-good thing for a few years now, however it was a proper album-sized album of his productions that really had folks taking note this year. Unlike most producer-led efforts, nothing about the tremendously versatile 99.9% feels forced or tedious – the only real common trend between all of its tracks is syrupy, bulbous basslines and beats that are wont to pirouette immaculately just as their original stints flow towards natural conclusions. It is just as easy to nod along with ‘Track Uno’ for a whole hour whilst being productive as it is to shuffle through the soles of your shoes to its sparkling funk.
In the video for ‘Lite Spots,’ another of 99.9%‘s unassisted cuts, Kaytranadad brings a robot of his own garage labour around the streets with beguiling charisma and flawless bops to the track beneath, revitalised from a 43-year-old sample of Brazil’s Gal Costa. This time-travelling and genre-transcendent touch runs throughout Kaytranada’s work, although the spread of guests he offers does no harm whatsoever: in a year where Craig David has headlined festivals and sold out arenas and had a number 1 comeback record, his subtle R&B jam from 99.9% about spending to spoil the object of his affections (‘Got It Good’) was so clearly a peak that it crossed over to his own record and easily stole the show; Anderson .Paak, GoldLink, and Vic Mensa put in fiery turns on their respective tracks (‘Glowed Up,’ ‘Together,’ ‘Drive Me Crazy’) to fly the flag for thrilling new hip-hop talent; and delicate temptation from Syd Tha Kid makes ‘You’re The One‘ one of the year’s most intimate disco flashbacks.
May 13th: The Lonely Island feat. Adam Levine – ‘I’m So Humble’
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, a satirical spin on tedious pop documentaries from The Lonely Island and their all-star collection of cameo artistes, looks to be the perfect movie for me. Then again, here’s a little taste of my movie consumption habits courtesy of my complete ballot for The Edge‘s Top Films of 2016.
- The Revenant
- Finding Dory
- The Angry Birds Movie
The first two were really good, I swear.
May 20th: Liv Dawson – ‘Tapestry’
From the captivating opening hums of ‘Tapestry,’ released ahead of November’s Open Your Eyes EP via Disclosure’s Method imprint, Liv Dawson has certainly joined the crew of folks with phenomenal voices that will halt you in your tracks. The 18-year-old speaks softly, aware of how atypical her situation is – telling me, “I’ve done it normally like everyone else – it just happened a bit younger” – yet she belies that youth with a remarkable poise and powerful vibrato over often sombre bass pulses.
Sometimes, press releases just say it best: “[‘Tapestry’] is intimate, elegant and spellbinding, simple yet evocative, classic feeling but distinctly contemporary.” May 2017 bring far more of this sort of thing.
May 27th: Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
An album? A mixtape? A bird? A plane? Whatever you call Coloring Book, the 14-track project from Chicago’s most gleeful and accessible rapper, there’s no denying its impact. On top of lively ditties from folks like Brasstracks, KAYTRANADA, and Lido, Chance’s gathering of all his pals – listing Anderson .Paak, Lil Wayne, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, and 2 Chainz is only scratching the surface in that respect – oozed enough delight in its bizarre streaming-only world to make history with seven Grammy nominations. Only the Recording Academy shunning ‘No Problem’ for the Best Diarrhoea Lyric gong that I just fabricated can come close to smudging this party.