Kaytranada is at the top of the mountain. In the space of merely a couple of years he’s gone from being one of Montreal’s worst kept secrets and a darling of the hype machine remix crew to being an institution within the world of alternative Hip Hop. With his lurching basslines and slow drums, instantly identifiable, he’s a man that’s in demand. From collaborations with the likes of Pharell to Radio 1 residencies, there’s no denying that Louis Kevin Celestin has achieved more than most bedroom producers could ever dream of.
Tonight, for his Brixton Acdemy sellout debut, Kaytranada comes with a star studded lineup of labelmates and friends including the likes of Benji B, Sango and Vic Mensa; the expansiveness of this surprise lineup (only announced a few weeks prior to the show) arguably makes it more than a concert, this is a showcase of everything associated with the young producer and a true celebration of his brief but deserving rise to success.
The night’s extensive roster of producer protégées read like an alternative EDM fan’s fantasy, a true exhibition of the talents of Kaytranada’s Huh What and Where label. The only local boy of the night, Benji B keeps it a very London-centric affair, with a grime laden set featuring some of the classics and a few more modern anthems. It’s a near perfect warmup set and his crowd interaction flows seemlessly as he gets the masses hyped for the night ahead. Sango brings his unique blend of Hip Hop and jazz remixes with unparalleled passion and professionalism, arguably one of the most technically talented DJs of the night. He even brings out Thornton Heath’s own Stormzy for quick rendition of what is arguably 2015’s biggest grime song to date, ‘Know me From’. It’s a quirky mix of warmup DJs on the bill that seem to fit together seamlessly.
Rising Chicago star Vic Mensa takes to the stage with intensity, isntantly launching into his Kaytranada produced hit, ‘Wimme Nah’ as he bounds across the stage. It’s set that bounds with excitement as the rapper waxes lyrical about how much his UK support means to him. Mensa quickly but expertly flows through his set occasionally pausing to introduce some of his more well known material, ‘Down On My Luck’ his unlikely club crossover hit is met with rapturous applause and is the definite highlight of his set.
So what of the night’s Quebecois superstar? Kaytranada quietly takes to the stage at around 11:30, the only sign giving this away being the 20 foot tall Miami Vice-esque logo that now adorns the venue’s screens. Admittedly the beginnings of the young producer’s set feel sluggish and out of place within the night’s previously jumpstart and feverish atmosphere. Leaning towards a more minimalistic set the producer takes the pace of the night down a couple of notches a fact he becomes acutely aware of, urging the crowd to dance more in a situation not unlike his Boiler Room outburst. Thankfully his set picks up and the crowds flock back to the Academy’s sloped dancefloor as Kaytranada offers a more Hip Hop and RnB infused end to his set. Underground hits such as his remix of Missy Elliott’s ‘Sock it 2 Me’ and the thundering, clumsy bass of Janet Jackson’s remixed ‘If’ swiftly remind the crowd why Kaytranada bears the torch for young alternative Hip Hop producers the world over. Overall it’s a mixed set, Kaytranada obviously attempted to push the boundaries of his usual repertoire offering too little too late with one punter at the bar telling me it could have been anyone up there for the first hour or so of his performance. However when that signature sound kicks in and the floor rumbles with his surging basslines, you could almost swear that the man is the Hip Hop demi-god of the Academy’s faux Roman temple facade.
Words: Charlie Jaco