Polaris

Kaytranada is the winner of the 2016 Polaris Music Prize

The Montreal-based electronic musician/producer takes home the coveted Canadian music prize for his debut album, 99.9%.
Kaytranada shows his winning ballot for the Polaris Music Prize. (Cathy Irving)

Kaytranada has won the 2016 Polaris Music Prize for his record 99.9%.

This was Kaytranada's tweet shortly after it was announced that the 24-year-old's debut studio album had been awarded the $50,000 Canadian music prize.

With 99.9%, the Haitian-born, Montreal-based musician and producer, born Louis Kevin Celestin, has created something bright, futuristic and almost otherworldly in his inspired fusion of electronic, R&B, and hip-hop elements layered and interlocked around eclectic, inventive samples.

99.9% beat out albums from mainstream pop star Carly Rae Jepsen, heavily-favoured art-house electro-pop artist Grimes, and repeat nominees such as Black Mountain, Pup and Basia Bulat. No one seemed more surprised than Kaytranada himself. 

Backstage following the win, Kaytranada expressed his shock when asked how it felt. "I don't know. It just stopped there, like, hold on, rewind this. Reload, you know? ... It's surreal," he said. 

He went on to say that he was fully expecting Grimes to win, which is perhaps not too surprising considering his recent history with award shows and what he perceived as a lack of recognition. Earlier this year, the Junos infamously nominated him for dance recording of the year, only to rescind it, causing Kaytranada to take to social media to call out the Canadian music industry being "out of touch."

That changed last night.

"It's a good recognition," he said. "I'm happy that finally, it's like, an artist that does it himself and [uses] hip-hop, dance music, house music, electronic music ... they're finally getting recognized. And I'm happy, you know? I don't know how to explain it. It's so crazy. I'm still in shock. It's definitely an evolution in the Canadian music scene, starting today."

"It's one of my favourite albums that came out this year," said BadBadNotGood's Chester Hansen. "He's one of our best friends and one of the most talented people we know and the nicest guy in the world. I'm just really happy to see him win."

For A Tribe Called Red's Ian Campeau and Tim Hill, it was the obvious choice.

"'Lite Spots, for me, that's my summer jam," said Hill.

"Grimes' album was the only other one that I saw in the running," added Campeau. "For me, it was between those two so I'm so glad that one of those two won."

"I think the right guy won today," said Hill. "It was an incredible album. I rinsed it. All summer."

CBC Music producer Jesse Kinos-Goodin wrote about 99.9% when the shortlist was announced.

"This is Kaytranada's official debut album, but the musician has already garnered a reputation as an in-demand DJ, remix artist and producer over the years. The 23-year-old has already released a staggering 13 projects and more than 40 remixes since he started in 2010. But mass acclaim, especially in Canada, has always eluded him, a fact he plays with on 'Despite the Weather' which ends with a clip of influential radio DJ Sway not realizing he's actually played Kaytranada on air before. With 99.9%, that should change. A mix of hip-hop, soul and vintage house music, Kaytranada's virtuosity is on full display on 99.9%. Even an impressive array of carefully curated guest appearances — Craig David, Vic Mensa, Anderson .Paak, BadBadNotGood, Shay Lia, to name a few — can't overshadow his rising star."

Kaytranada was also listed on CBC Music's post of "10 artists to watch out for in 2016."

With files from Andrea Warner and Jesse Kinos-Goodin.

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