Montreal

Montreal hip-hop community proud to see Kaytranada take home Polaris Prize

When Aisha Vertus opened up her Twitter account this morning, to see her friend, hip- hop producer Kaytranada won the Polaris Music Prize, it brought her to tears.

‘Big day for the whole beat scene in Montreal’: Hip-hop artists react to Kaytranada’s win

Montreal dance-music producer Louis Kevin Celestin, better known as Kaytranada, dazzled Polaris jurors with his debut album 99.9%. (The Canadian Press)

When Aisha Vertus opened up her Twitter account to see that her friend, hip-hop producer Kaytranada, won the Polaris Music Prize, it brought her to tears.

"I always felt something special about him," says Vertus. "And I was always like, 'Dude, one day people will know.'"

Vertus produced a documentary about the beat scene in Montreal a few years back, which included Kaytranada when he was just starting out.

"I always knew that this guy represents more than music. He represents Haitians, he represents the gay community. I see him and I'm inspired," says Vertus.

"So that's why I wanted people to know his story."

Best Canadian album 

If the name Kaytranada didn't ring a bell in music industry circles before, it will now. The 24-year-old electronic hip-hop producer from Saint-Hubert, Que., won the Polaris Music Prize for his debut album entitled 99.9%.

I would like to thank everybody for believing.- Kaytranada , 2016 Polaris Prize winner

​Kaytranada beat out nine other artists from across Canada on the shortlist, including pop star Carly Rae Jepsen and electro-pop singer Grimes, for best full-length Canadian album. He also took home a $50,000 cash prize.

Kaytranada poses for a photo after being awarded the 2016 Polaris Music Prize in Toronto on Monday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

"I would like to thank everybody for believing, man. For me it's crazy to get this award and it's really, truly a big honour. Ça c'est pour Montréal," said Kaytranada in his acceptance speech at the award show in Toronto.

Kaytranada's album is described as a genre-defying mix of funk, soul, hip hop, R&B, beat and dance music – with inventive percussion and custom-made synths.

The producer has shied away from media interviews, but has been widely critical on social media about the lack of attention from mainstream media.

Kaytranada, left, is congratulated by Buffy Sainte-Marie after being awarded the 2016 Polaris Music Prize in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

He tweeted that Canadian music was "out of touch" after last year's Junos, when his nomination in the dance recording category was rescinded because his song At All came out before the eligibility period.

Kaytranada's popularity in Europe has been steadily growing, when he signed to U.K.-based XL Recordings two years ago. He joined major artists like Adele, Radiohead, M.I.A. and Alicia Keys on the label.

Montreal hip-hop artist Ken Lo Craqnuques isn't surprised Kaytranada was awarded the Polaris Prize. The first time he heard Kaytranada's work when he just just a teenager, he remembers thinking there was something different in his beats. 

Montreal hip hop artist Ken Lo Craqnuques talks about hip hop producer Kaytranada winning the 2016 Polaris Music Prize. (CBC)

"I was puzzled. I witnessed the deepness of his styles, even at an early age. He had a deep musical feel on what he was touching," he says. "A maturity, not over crafting, I had a feeling that he didn't have to learn that, it was just in him."

Kaytranada has said that Ken Lo Craqnuques is one of the artists in Montreal who has inspired his work. Now Craqnuques says the tables have turned.

"For all the people who follow the Kaytranada journey, we're really proud. Close to shedding tears," he says.

"It's a big day for that whole beat scene in Montreal. He's the young Messiah."