Music Quickspins


 Kaytra’s sophomore album doubles down on what made 99.9% so entrancing

When producers make their own albums, they’re mostly messy. Oftentimes, they’re lacking in cohesiveness or interesting tracks, but mainly, they’re boring. Kaytranada is a modern exception to this.

Bubba, the newest unannounced album from the Montreal native, isn’t a successor to 99.9% by name, but it sure feels like the next logical step. The sounds aren’t quite different from his previous effort, but this record is yet another compilation of dance-ready tracks with solid features and wonderful instrumentals.

Beginning with one of the few tracks to not feature a guest, “DO IT” is an uneventful way to start the album. The beat feels janky at times, but thankfully it’s short enough to be only a blip. The following track, “2 The Music,” is where the party truly starts as Iman Omari’s vocals on the track are soothing and lively.

Mick Jenkins, Kali Uchis, and Masego are the stars of the show. Their respective tracks are fiery and continue to prove that performing alongside a Kaytra beat is a surefire way to make a banger.

Sonically, Kaytra focuses on what he does best, but he also does his best at creating Afrobeats-style instrumentals and executes them with a high degree of success, especially on “Vex Oh” featuring Eight9FLY, GoldLink, and Ari PenSmith.

Bubba, like 99.9%, is a full-length album surpassing the 50-minute mark, but still manages to be entertaining to the very end without any lulls or misfires on the entirety of the tracklist.

The album bears a striking resemblance to his previous effort and there probably would have been bigger payoffs had Kaytra taken a few more risks, but the Montreal producer stuck to his guns and dropped a wonderful dance album to cap off the decade.

Rating: 8.5/10

Trial Track: 10% (feat. Kali Uchis)


Murda Beatz plans for an even bigger 2020

The Canadian hip hop producer discusses his platinum hits and rising the ranks

Seated backstage in the underground lair that is MTELUS’ green room, following A$AP Ferg’s “Floor Seats” tour stop, Murda Beatz reflects on his childhood exposure to music.

“I grew up on classic rock, hard rock, metal – Metallica,” he said. “That’s what I grew up on. That’s what I got a taste for as a kid. That’s why I wanted to play drums. I wanted to make a band and do all that shit because I had a rock background.”

No, Murda Beatz is not the stage name of a drummer for an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band. Instead, Murda Beatz is one of the most successful hip hop producers of our generation, with an extensive catalogue that dates back to the early years of the decade. Most impressive, perhaps, is that the shaggy-haired Canadian from the southern suburbs of Toronto has become a contemporary staple in the Atlanta trap scene and beyond.

“If there’s 20 thousand producers in Toronto and you’re trying to get to Toronto artists, how are you so different than anyone else?” Murda asks. “You have to catch someone’s attention to make you different. So I went to Chicago, got in the drill scene, got my name established in the drill scene – enough to hit up the Migos and be like ‘Yo, I’m Murda Beatz, I work with Chief Keef and these guys’… Until your name holds weight, your credentials are going to hold more weight than your name.”

Murda tells the story of his early days while his thick “MURDA” chain glistens atop his pendant of a chef – a symbol for being the master at cooking beats.

Following his collaborations with Chief Keef, Murda became one of the main producers for Migos, the Atlanta rap trio credited with being some of the early forefathers of the ad lib trap rap that currently dominates the market. The exclusivity and credibility that came from that honour then allowed him to collaborate with other industry chart toppers. In the last two years alone, Murda has been responsible for creating hits like “Butterfly Effect” by Travis Scott, “Nice for What” by Drake, and recently 10x plantinum record “FEFE” by the incarcerated rainbow-haired rapper 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj.

Murda acknowledges that he typically knows when he has a hit on his hands. While that criteria depends on a few factors like the artist and the beat itself, a lot of the magic happens when the song is made live in the studio.

“Most of the Migos stuff is in studio,” he says, “like ‘Pipe It Up,’ ‘Motorsport,’ some new shit we got coming out called ‘GNF (Give No Fucks)’ with Travis and Thug. ‘Butterfly Effect’ was done on FaceTime. ‘FEFE’ was in studio. Most of the special ones come from the studio – most of them. I think it’s just the synergy, you know what I mean? It’s just different. But some stuff, artists might hit me up and like ‘Yo, I got some crazy shit,’ which is not in studio. Then I’m gonna do my own shit, make a call, and say ‘Ey, we got a record.’”

Hip hop producer Murda Beatz discusses his success with the Concordian music editor Jacob Carey following his “Floor Seats” tour stop with A$AP Ferg. Photo by Chris Carpenter (@cb43media).

Murda recalls the time he collaborated with the recently departed Juice WRLD, a Chicago rapper most known for his highly successful track “Lucid Dreams.”

“So me and him, the day before he signed his deal, I hit him up,” Murda says. “I became a fan, you know what I’m saying, me and Cole Bennett, we started talking a few years ago. So I was always on his page, watching his shit, so I saw the ‘All Girls Are the Same’ video, said ‘This kid is fire.’ I was bumping that shit every day. So I found out he was in LA, hit him up, went to the studio, and we made 14 songs in six hours. Crazy. He’s the fastest working man possible on this earth. We made 14 songs in six hours. That shit was crazy. None of them came out, unfortunately, some of them leaked and stuff. Hopefully they might come out in the future, you never know. It’s definitely music that should come out. Everyone would appreciate it, and it’s definitely some of my best music.”

While Murda is in high demand among a wave of both new and already established artists, there are still dream collaborations that he wishes to cross off his bucket list in the near future.

“Definitely like, Rihanna, Beyonce, Bieber, Kanye, [Jay-Z] … Ed Sheeran,” Murda says. “I think me and him in a picture together would break the internet. If we did a music video together – if I was Ed Sheeran and he was Murda Beatz… that’d be crazy. I should definitely hit him up. We’ve talked back and forth. I was supposed to go to his show a few months ago but I just got too busy, but yeah, we got to do some shit. If he was me and I was him in a video, that shit would go crazy.”

Murda Beatz’ success shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

“New songs coming out in 2020. Album in 2020. The years just keep getting bigger and bigger.”


Photos by Chris Carpenter (@cb43media)


Mo’ passion mo’ stardom

Dev sold his watch and PS4 to record his first mixtape three years ago

“Where else should I be?” Dev asked as we sank into the oversized chairs in Montreal’s renowned MakeWay Studios—the place he chooses to spend most of his nights. “I feel like an animal in his natural habitat.”

From sleepless nights recording songs for artists, to producing beats and creating his own music, Dev can be labelled a jack-of-all-trades. For the past few years, he’s honed his craft and built connections in the music industry. And it saved his life.

It’s rare to speak to a 22-year-old who knows what they want to do with their life, but Dev’s sense of certainty and clarity about his future sets him apart. As I sat in on one of Dev’s studio sessions this past week, I realized that he isn’t your average 22-year-old, and it might just be time he let the world know.

Dev sold his nicest watch and Playstation 4 to record his first project in February 2016, but a lot has changed since the release of the unrefined Nocturnal Nights mixtape.

“I had a scholarship to play football at Champlain; I had a job at Target. But every day, the only thing that made me happy was writing bars on the two-hour bus and metro ride to school,” Dev said. “I would download different beats off of YouTube everyday and just write.”

The artist played football for a combined 10 years, sacrificing many summer nights to training and practices. But getting a chance to play the sport at the next level didn’t give him the fulfillment he expected.

Something was missing.

Then, while on lunch break one day at work, it clicked. Dev heard a Lil Uzi Vert song and right then and there, he knew what he had to do. “I got up and quit my job,” he said, chuckling, with a touch of pride in his voice. “I just knew that I was wasting my time. I had to do music.”

Dev in his natural habitat. Photo by Immanuel Matthews

Not long after, Dev dropped out of CÉGEP to pursue his dreams, right before the highly-anticipated start of the football season. Without any formal training or experience, he turned towards music and hasn’t looked back.

Though the decision was a no-brainer for the LaSalle native, his mom was not on-board with the idea. She kicked him out of the house after he refused to get a job and return to school, and his gears shifted into survival mode.

Luckily enough, good connections and even better friends landed Dev on the couch in one of his friend’s condos, in the heart of the city. Carl Uribe, who runs multiple recording studios in the spacious location, brought Dev in on one condition. He’d have to put up with the long nights of chest-thumping bass and booming vocal recordings that played out a few feet from his head, because, well, his room was a studio.

The uncomfortable situation turned out to be a blessing in disguise, one that kept Dev going through the doubts and off-days.

“I learned so much from the people that passed through Carl’s,” said Dev. “I would go to bed listening to people recording their music, and I would wake up to it too. I remember there were some beats that were so amazing they would just put me to sleep. Then I started to record and engineer for people, and I built my own clientele through the connections that I built there.”

Dev’s reputation of consistency and quality work began to spread through the city. Soon, he was recording artists every week at some of Montreal’s major studios: MakeWay, Planet, and Apollo Studios. His quality of his work improved, and so did his price—his business was booming.

Months went by, and Dev got a call from Anu Budz, the owner of MakeWay Studios in Verdun. Budz had heard about Dev and wanted him to come work at his studio. His foot was in the door.

When Dev’s mom saw the work he had put into his music, she allowed him to move back in. His clientele grew, and he continued to work on his craft, producing new beats every week, and rapping and singing new vocals every day.

Inspired by some of our generation’s hip hop pillars like Kanye, Kid Cudi and Travis Scott, it’s Dev’s creative use of effects and sounds, and his work ethic that set him apart.

Dev cites much of his growth to fellow Montreal artist and all-around talent, Marc Anthony Balian, also known as Gxlden Child, who’s been making music for years and has worked with some of Montreal’s biggest talents. Dev has high hopes for the near future, for both himself and his best friend.

“I try to use my voice as an instrument, making it sound all these different ways on different beats,” said Dev. “I really don’t think there’s anyone in the city making music even similar to mine, other than my boy Gxlden Child. It’s just us.”

Dev said they’re collaborating while each working on their solo material. “We can’t wait to drop the things we’ve been working on for so long.”

“I didn’t know I was born for this, but I know I was born for something like this,” Dev said. “It’s like a kid who plays football all his life and finally gets his dream of playing in the NFL. Nothing makes me happier than working on music everyday.”

While Dev continues to grind as an engineer and producer, behind the scenes, he prepares for his full-blown launch as an artist, planning album release dates and brainstorming music video ideas with his management. While no dates have been made public yet, just know…

Dev’s coming.

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