Electronic music can go just about anywhere an artist wants it to. You can find elements of it in just about any genre of music, with it being a strong backbone to many genres itself. Existing in so many places, it’s amazing to find that it still holds so much diversity; I guess when there is an incredibly loose definition with endless capabilities, it is to be expected. Kaytranada has used the magic of electronic music to make Bubba, an eclectic effort that easily blends elements of hip-hop, r’n’b, pop, house music, and even moombahton among a plethora of other influences. The result is an artful and warm album that can exist equally as club music and good music to just vibe to in the background at home.
Bubba was my first introduction to the music of Kaytranada. I realized this wasn’t going to be what I expected at all from the opening seconds of “DO IT”. The beat feels warm and unique from the jump, with the use of multiple percussive elements to bring out a really interesting drum pattern. There is an element to this opening track that sounds bubbly and twinkly, and is really unlike anything I’ve ever heard. “DO IT” is an upbeat yet fairly straight-forward song, with its main hook looping while the drums and crystalline sound permeate it. The beat completely changes up to a really funky-sounding guitar riff for the last 15 seconds of the song, pushing it to just over two minutes in length.
Short length is an element that a lot of the tracks in Bubba have in common. At fifty minutes long, this workhorse of an album churns through 17 fairly unique tracks. They all hold similar elements, like the slight funk and hip-hop elements that regularly make up the crafty electronic beats. There are really no two songs that sound the same at all, however. Many of the songs feature vocals from a number of different rap and r’n’b artists, including SiR, Mick Jenkins, and Kali Uchis. Each vocal track feels specifically catered the the strengths of the artists present. “Need It” features Jamaican-born Masego, who is highlighted with a moombah-heavy track, a genre that borrows strongly from reggae.
Despite the length of individual tracks, I have found Bubba to exist in its best form as a complete album. Many of the tracks run together without missing a beat, like the end of the aforementioned “Need It” blending right into the start of “Taste”. Getting away from the full listen is cutting Kaytranada‘s work short in a way that feels different to individual tracks from most albums. Bubba plays in a way that feels like a DJ set as much as an album. I’m pretty confident somebody could put this record on at a club and let it play front to back and the crowd would feel it the whole time and would hardly notice a break.
I think my favorite element of Bubba is the fact that at the surface level, it’s accessible enough that casual music listeners can easily be drawn in to the r’n’b and hip-hop elements. It’s really fun and straight-forward for the most part, especially the tracks featuring vocals. At the same time, it is unique and creative enough that a lot of music nerds can easily find something to take away from it. It’s incredibly artsy, with crystal-clear production and a ton of background elements adding multiple layers of complexity to most tracks that aren’t invasive enough to dissuade the casual listeners still. It’s really brilliant, to be honest.
Kaytranada created a really fun album in Bubba, one that I haven’t been able to stop listening to. I play it on my drive to work a lot of mornings, and it always makes for a really nice start to the day. With all of the featured vocalists and the diversity track-to-track, it has failed to lose its luster or become boring after a number of listens. It’s catchy and creative enough to warrant a ton of playbacks, and if you’re anything like me when you hear it, you’ll find yourself going back to it over and over again. Be sure to give this a spin if you’re in the mood for good vibes in just about any context.