2016 Polaris Prize-winner Kaytranada has risked editing another seemingly untouchable track, Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky”. Originally meant only for his DJ sets, the understandably positive reaction convinced him to make it public on his Soundcloud. Solange’s original is such a titan in its own right– it is one of the standouts on the lauded No. 1 Album A Seat at the Table-– that any edit faces the danger of not only failing to measure up, but actually shrinking in comparison. Yet given how Kaytranada has always avoided this mistake in the past, it’s no surprise he succeeds again here.
He has a long history of success remixing celebrated R&B hits, including Janet Jackson’s highly-decorated 1993 hit “If”, TLC’s 1996 Grammy-winning “Creep” and Erykah Badu’s 2003 Grammy-winning “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)”. In this edit, he holds Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” in the same regard as these other songs, since he engages with the original in a similar fashion.
Kaytranada approaches the edit tentatively and appreciatively and aims to preserve the song’s spirit. What he does do is massage it to better fit different environments. By raising the tempo, cutting out some of the verses, and emphasizing the beat, it begins to thrive better on a club’s dance floor. The melody and Solange’s lyricism already uplifts; this change just makes the listener a bit more keen to try the “dance it away” method one more time. And while the edit possesses Kaytranada’s signature vibe and feel, he doesn’t put himself and his own style in the spotlight, instead standing beside – if not a respectful step or two behind – Solange’s original intent and sound.