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Kaytranada - Timeless (Album Review)

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Jivi Emir

Kaytranada’s ‘Timeless’ sounds and feels like a decent mixtape-album fusion, where playful skits and ditties emerge between full songs that feature a diverse and talented stable of collaborators. Over 21 tracks it demonstrates the Haiti-born, Canada-raised rapper, producer and singer’s production expertise and compositional versatility while never quite serving up any absolute bangers.

That said, he does get pretty close. Witchy (featuring Childish Gambino) is an atmospheric hip hop cut that combines substantial lyrical talents with distinctive arrangement heavy in reversed patches, sidechain compression and AutoTune. It’s a decent song but doesn’t quite have the creative energy to really hook you in, despite some elegant production that borders on neo-soul.

And this is where Kaytranada’s versatility comes into it. The best track here is probably Dip Sweat with Channel Tres, which uses a familiar ‘90s drum sample alongside trap bass and low-slung (though still highly processed) vocals. 

It’s somewhere between Afrobeat, Cumbia and straight hip hop, and is all the better for it. The problem is the central melody — handled by a synth horn — is clearly intended to get in your head and stay there, and it does so at the cost of being really, really annoying.

Elsewhere, the Rochelle Jordan collaboration Lover/Friend is a toe-tapping R&B ballad with interweaving melodies and smashed out, peaking kick drum. The result is catchier than Witchy, but it still doesn’t quite feel ubiquitous. And this is probably the trade off with ‘Timeless’: it is an album aiming directly for the big time, angled at a broad audience with songs machine-tooled for radioplay and commercial syncs. 

As such one must appreciate these songs on those specific terms: as potential hits. And it is on those terms that they struggle. There are still some jazzy, semi experimental interludes — anything featuring Thundercat qualifies — but the main thrust of the album is hit making in the vein of early to mid-period Kanye West, Dr Dre, or at a push, Kendrick Lamar, and there’s just nothing here that runs those producers close.

Kaytranada Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri August 16 2024 - LONDON Victoria Park

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