Yes, we’ve covered the work of trill wunderkind Kaytranada here at EMPT not too long ago. But this young man has a treasure trove of scintillating productions just waiting to be dredged up. So, would you leave a diamond mine you knew was still full of that glittering good stuff? All done with the oil well after you’ve filled up your gas tank? Hell no!
Now I’m not gonna front; I’m not familiar with the original cut. My exposure to Janet Jackson’s body of work has been extremely limited to say the least. I mean, I do have memories of her and her brother Michael floating through my consciousness in black and white, looking really cool (but also really angry!) in the video for Scream.
Not that it matters much. I’m absolutely enamored with If (Kaytranada Remix), total lack of context be damned.
First, he starts off with the track with that reverb trick that makes it sound as though Jackson is singing from a room just down the hall and right behind a door. God, I’m a sucker for that. The images those little technique can conjure! Maybe Janet’s warming up in the booth with the backing track before she lays down the vocal cut. When the throb of the bass drum comes in, though, it sounds more like you’re walking down a dank, steamy hallway, with the warm embrace of the club and all its decadent promises just ahead. Then the hi-hat comes in and it establishes this glow-disco glitch groove that Kaytranada could ride out for the rest of the damn track and not much else would matter as I get caught up in the sound. That bounce in the bass tones has just the perfect amount of rump-bumping elasticism too. Right as it sounds likes he’s about to settle in, the cut shifts into straight shimmer mode as Janet’s vocals come into high relief.
This is fog machine R&B, a track that hangs in the air and sets a canvas for the shining, colorful lights as it floats around and overtakes the listener. Lovely.