KAYTRANADA has the secret sauce and he doles it out however he pleases. The Haitian-Canadian producer isn’t sharing the recipe, either. His signature sound is one of the most recognizable in the industry, delivering groove music on a sliding scale that ranges from jazz to house to hip-hop to pop.
He may have only just started receiving his flowers, as the Recording Academy gave him the award Best New Artist in 2019, but KAYTRANADA has been blazing a trail with his beats for over a decade. In case you’re just hopping on, we’ve compiled a list of the absolute best tracks of his career.
Listen to the 25 best KAYTRANADA songs below. Enjoy!
25. KAYTRANADA – Caution
Coming about a year after his most recent album, BUBBA (and just weeks before he would win two Grammys), KAYTRANADA casually dropped off this Dilla-esque single. With its spacey and loopy vibe, “Caution” may appear meandering, but before you know it, its teeth are fully sunken in. It’s hard to get this one off repeat.
24. KAYTRANADA – Club Bang
At the beginning of 2013, KAYTRANADA began to introduce new ways of releasing his music. For the first time, he went through an official record label, LA’s HW&W (Huh What & Where), to release his Kaytra Todo EP. The release featured mostly trap-leaning beats, with “Club Bang” taking the cake with its perfect drums, smoked-out hip-hop samples, and muted synth melodies.
23. KAYTRANADA – Look Easy (feat. Lucky Daye)
After releasing BUBBA, KAYTRANADA told Zane Lowe that there were “so many tracks that just didn’t make [it].” “Look Easy” appeared to be one of those, as it was released a few months after the Grammy-winning album. It’s a deep, late-night groover with strobing synths and a sensual bassline that Lucky Daye takes full advantage of.
22. Danny Brown – Lie4 (KAYTRANADA Remix)
Before KAYTRANADA became one of the most sought-after producers to work with, most vocals on his tracks came in the form of remixes. On this melodic hip-hop beat, he chose to lay down an acapella of Danny Brown’s “Lie4.” The juxtaposition of Danny Brown’s abrasive delivery and the pillowy production from KAYTRANADA worked surprisingly well. He would go on to release the original instrumental, but we like this version the most.
21. KAYTRANADA – WEIGHT OFF (feat. BADBADNOTGOOD)
KAYTRANADA has an inexplicable knack for finding that perfect loop. He did so alongside Canadian jazz wizards BADBADNOTGOOD on “WEIGHT OFF,” which orbits around a mesmerizing bassline. Over the course of two and a half minutes, the energy oscillates up and down gradually, ultimately leading into one of 99.9%‘s best moments, “One Too Many.”
20. KAYTRANADA – The Worst In Me (feat. Tinashe)
Tinashe is the queen of late-night smash hits, and her pivot to housey rhythms around this time worked brilliantly with KAYTRANADA’s style. Apparently, the two wrote the track in 30 minutes and recorded it on the first take. The trippy, beaming synths make you want to cruise around on a warm night with the windows rolled down. And Tinashe’s performance serves as a highlight of BUBBA.
19. KAYTRANADA – DESPITE THE WEATHER
Placed slyly within 99.9%, it could be easy to skim over this tune, given the album’s stacked tracklist. The first minute feels like it’s just going to be an interlude, but KAYTRANADA lets “DESPITE THE WEATHER” really lean into itself in the second, reminding the listeners of his nuanced production techniques in terms of both sampling and writing.
18. KAYTRANADA – All We Do (feat. JMSN)
Another gem from his early EP, Kaytra Todo, “All We Do” is a timeless track that signals to KAYTRANADA’s future work with vocalists. He meshes perfectly with JMSN here, realizing how well the sound of his production can sound as a stage for another. Soon after, KAYTRA would go on to release a string of similar singles that led up to his debut, 99.9%.
17. KAYTRANADA – My Dope House (feat. Freddie Gibbs)
KAYTRANADA recorded with Freddie Gibbs for the first time at RedBull Studios in Los Angeles back in 2015. They came up with “My Dope House,” a track hard enough to be included in one of Grand Theft Auto V’s in-game radio stations. The sleepy yet banging production evokes one of Freddie Gibbs’ most unexpected performances. The duo clearly hit it off collaboratively, as Freddie enlisted KAYTRANADA to produce on almost every one of his following albums.
16. Solange – Cranes In The Sky (KAYTRANADA DJ Edit)
By 2016, KAYTRANADA didn’t need to keep uploading free remixes to SoundCloud, but that didn’t stop him (and it still hasn’t) from uploading this beautiful edit of Solange’s “Cranes In The Sky.” Designed as a dancefloor weapon for his DJ sets, a heavy, jazzy bassline keeps your feet glued down as Solange’s vocals sweep you away into a whole different world.
15. KAYTRANADA – $payforhaiti (feat. Mach-Hommy)
Haitian American rapper Mach-Hommy oozes confidence on the mic on “$payforhaiti,” the first of hopefully many collaborations between him and KAYTRANADA. The weaving of Haitian Creole adds a new layer of depth to KAYTRA’s music that we’ve never heard before. Given the Haitian background of both artists, something clearly clicked. These two could easily do a whole project together.
14. KAYTRANADA – One Too Many (feat. Phonte)
“One Too Many” is one of the most versatile cuts off 99.9%. A bubbling deep house bassline and shimmering synths give this one a night-club setting as Phonte sings his heart out about partying too hard and getting burnt out. The surprisingly catchy tune gets a switch-up at the end when Phonte breaks down into a slick rap verse that serves as a nice outro.
13. KAYTRANADA – It Was Meant 2 B
In typical clever fashion from KAYTRANADA, “It Was Meant 2 B” was slipped into his Nothin’ Like U / Chances EP as what appeared to be B-side. It’s a swimmingly good retro-futuristic jam that calls on tiny woodblocks to accentuate its groove. The mysterious synth melodies make it a sort of introspective tune, but the rhythm will have you up to no good.
12. KAYTRANADA – DRIVE ME CRAZY (feat. Vic Mensa)
When KATYRANADA dropped “DRIVE ME CRAZY” with Vic Mensa in 2015, it immediately became one of his biggest hits. The colossal drums, hypnotic synths, and of course, Mensa’s powerful, confident delivery of his bars. This was the soundtrack to unlimited smoke sessions last decade and still gets a spot in our rotation today. And who expected that guitar at the end?
11. KAYTRANADA – Vex Oh (feat. GoldLink, Ari PenSmith, Eight9FLY)
An absolutely perfect mixture of styles on this track that ends up sounding like a mixture of pop and Afrobeats. “Vex Oh” proves how ubiquitous and accessible KAYTRANADA’s sound has become, as artists from Nigeria, Canada, America, and the UK combine to make something undeniably catchy and unique.
10. Missy Elliot – Sock It To Me (KAYTRANADA Edition)
The subtle brass melodies on this epic remix of Missy Elliot’s “Sock It To Me” have been living somewhere deep down in my head over the last decade. This one drops into an irresistible instrumental hook that will still knock hard on any type of sound system. Hook up some bass and go ahead and give it a whirl.
9. KAYTRANADA – Chances (feat. Shay Lia)
While most of KAYTRANADA’s tracks are grounded by thick, heavy basslines, “Chances” takes weightless flight. Don’t get it wrong, though. The tune still rocks a slick groove, but Shay Lia’s vocals and the delicate melody introduce a soaring vibe to KAYTRANADA’s sound.
8. Janet Jackson – If (KAYTRANADA Remix)
For many music heads back in the early 2010s, this is the tune that put you onto KAYTRANADA. This tune set the foundation for his career and would still sound ahead of the curve even if it was released today.
7. KAYTRANADA – At All
Following his first official EP in 2013, KAYTRANADA would then return to HW&W for a double single, At All / Hilarity Duff, which also included a remix from likeminded producer Sango. “At All” still finds its way into KAYTRA’s live sets—and for good reason. The twitchy funky on this one can send you quickly into a spontaneous dancefloor spasm.
6. KAYTRANADA – LITE SPOTS
“LITE SPOTS” is KAYTRANADA’s production at its most experimental. He takes an obscure and complex jazz sample from Brazilian artist Gal Costa and flips it masterfully. The tune begins in a nebulous form, skittering along until it finds exactly where it wants to be, and that’s stuck in a KAYTRANADA groove.
5. KAYTRANADA – YOU’RE THE ONE (feat. Syd)
KAYTRANADA has an undeniable ability to shape the artists he works with to fit the exact mold he wants. When he works with top-tier singer Syd, however, the two have a beautiful synergy that produces magic like “YOU’RE THE ONE.” If you love this track, you have to check out their other collab, “Girl,” which features KAYTRANADA’s production on The Internet’s (Syd’s band) Grammy-nominated album.
4. KAYTRANADA – Hilarity Duff
Between the funky grooves of “At All” and the trap/instrumental masterpiece that is “Hilarity Duff,” this double single on HW&W defined the two sides of KAYTRANADA’s sound. This particular side, which doesn’t come out as often anymore, may have been the product of an era, but it still serves as an iconic moment in his discography. The wah-wah synths, heavy bass, and psychedelic orchestral breakdown are vintage KAYTRA at his finest.
3. KAYTRANADA – GLOWED UP (feat. Anderson .Paak)
KAYTRANADA’s best pure hip-hop track. This song is so good that Anderson .Paak is still playing it in his live sets half a decade later (and it’s technically not even his song). Not only is “GLOWED UP” one of his hardest-hitting bangers, featuring mind-bending 808s, but it features the most sneaky vibe-switches in his discography. Halfway through the song, KAYTRANADA subtracts the sub-bass and adds a jazzy drumkit and dreamy synths that allow Anderson .Paak to coast sing us out.
2. KAYTRANADA – Dysfunctional (feat. VanJess)
The most danceable tune in his discography, “Dysfunctional,” often serves as the peak of KAYTRANADA’s DJ sets. It sounds as if he took his 2015 tune “Leave Me Alone,” gave it a sparkling polish, and then re-released it to the world as it should have been. I don’t care where you are. This tune will blow the roof off any structure within its range. Best to play it outside.
1. KAYTRANADA – 10% (feat. Kali Uchis)
If there was one song that got the entire music industry to rally around KAYTRANADA, it was “10%” with Kali Uchis. It’s a perfect blend of all the elements that make up his signature sound: house, jazz, hip-hop, and funk. Kali Uchis was the perfect addition to the track, her vocals the thread that ties “10%” all up together in a pristine bow. Following the release of this tune and his 2019 album, BUBBA, KAYTRANADA was awarded two Grammy awards: one for Best Dance Album and one for Best New Artist.