Updated: Aug 2, 2019
There are so many “beat-makers" these days, but very few value the classic sounds of a simple jazzy sample. In many cases, these “rare” gems are discovered by being in the right place - or mood - at the right time. Bedroom producer Kaytoo might be trip-hop's next hidden gem.
In his 2019 album Jaguar, Kaytoo comes right out of the gate with a saxophone driven track with drums straight out of Queen Latifah’s U.N.I.T.Y. era. But from here, the sounds range from night time slow jams found in the bedroom of a baby boomer African-American couple in Cleveland proving they can still “groove like the young bloods” to ambient background music only found in anime.
Did I detect a Childish Gambino verse on Ceviche? Yes, I did.
Did Kaytoo break out a bluesy electric guitar only found in the best of the hole-in-the-wall lounges of Kansas City? Yes, he did.
This producer’s got some soul.
I reached out to the 29-year old producer to understand the man behind the sound. Although I’m nowhere close to reaching him in London, Kaytoo volunteered for my inaugural edition of The Artist in 10.
Q: When did you first decide that you would start making beats?
A: Pretty much as soon as I discovered rap and hip-hop music, I think I was about 13 or 14 at the time. I used to listen to the instrumentals that came on CD singles on repeat; I actually managed to wear out my copy of Ante Up by M.O.P from listening to the beat too much. Pretty weird thing to do, looking back on it… I've been producing for about 8 years but Jaguar is the first album I’ve released.
Q: How did you discover the sounds and samples used throughout your album? You definitely seem to have roots only found in the finest jazz clubs and hole-in-the-wall nightclubs of the past.
A: There's a great vinyl store near me so I run through the bargain bins and buy anything that looks interesting, I've been lucky enough to find some real gems. I also do a fair bit of digital digging as well - a lot of people turn their nose up at sampling from YouTube but I don't see the problem, personally!
Q: So I'm guessing underground hip-hop is your jam and jelly?
A: I do love underground hip-hop fan though, it was pretty much all I listened to when I was a bit younger. I'm a big fan of the likes of Masta Ace, Royce Da 5'9", MF Doom, One Be Lo and Zion I.
Q: Favorite genre of music?
A: Definitely hip-hop. I grew up around the time Eminem blew up and hip-hop was everywhere – you couldn’t ignore it. I do try and listen to other genres but I haven’t really found anything else that appeals to me in the same way.
Q: Your favorite (childhood) cartoon/TV Show?
A: It would have to be The Simpsons. It’s the best sitcom of all time for me, everything up until the 10th season or so is golden.
Q: How did this album Jaguar come together, terms of the creative process?
A: Jaguar was made 100% in Reason using an MPK Mini. It’s largely built around samples – I really enjoy taking elements from completely different songs and blending them together to make something new. I didn’t have any monitors so I had to produce, mix and master the whole thing using headphones – not something I’d recommend!
Q: If tape decks were still around, what 5 songs would automatically get on your mixtape?
A: Passin’ Me By – The Pharcyde Midnight in a Perfect World – DJ Shadow Blame Game – Kanye West Dead President II – Jay Z Nights – Frank Ocean
Q: What producers are your biggest influences?
A: Pete Rock is probably my biggest influence, his sample selection has always been amazing and I love the warm, jazzy atmosphere he creates. They Reminisce Over You is one of my favorite songs of all time, and a big reason I why sample so many saxophone tracks. Danger Mouse and Kanye West have also been a big source of inspiration, as well as your more obvious shouts like DJ Premier, J Dilla and 9th Wonder.
Q: How do you envision your music being enjoyed?
A: That's a good question! I primarily make music that I think sounds good and that I'd be happy to listen to if I randomly stumbled upon it. I'm aware that most people don't like instrumental hip-hop too much though so I tried to make Jaguar a bit more accessible by including vocal samples and things like that. I hope people can enjoy listening with their full focus but it does work well as 'background music'. I like the thought of it being played in those tiny hidden cocktail bars, those places have the best music!
Q: Are you cooler than Jeff Goldblum?
A: Absolutely not! He copes with alien invasions a lot better than I would!
Bottom line: Check out Jaguar, a solid lo-fi beat tape from a new artist that might take a few tracks to really settle in, but by track five, you’ll feel the mood. It sells itself. It serves its purpose. This project would definitely be appealing to fans of Flamingosis, 9th Wonder, Nomak, Dr. Who Dat?
The Best: Ceviche, Orange Fizz, Bounty, Don’t Try This At Home, Bedroom Eyes
The So-So: Mojito, Fever Dream, Question Mark
The Meh: Sleeping Beauty
9/10 for the first listen
9.5/10 for the deep listen
Llama Ruckus is an aspiring songwriter and producer from Atlanta, Georgia. His primarily genre is trip-hop; blends of elements from funk, surf rock, chill hop, blues, synthpop, and psychedelic rock/jazz.