Review Summary: Light up, lay back, and chill out....
To say Haitian-Canadian producer Kaytranada has become something of a hot commodity since the release of his debut 99.9%
would be a bit of an understatement. From collaborations with Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige to Chance the Rapper and discussions of a major project with Pharrell looming large, it’s hard to say meteors rise faster than this man has. Impressively, in between the festivals and career-defining projects, Kaytranada has found the time to diversify his portfolio even further this year, making contributions to the new Goldlink and Chet Faker albums as well as a split release with little known Compton-area rapper Buddy. Ocean & Montana
, named after the cross-streets Buddy lived in after moving out of his parents’ house, paints a warm vision of western California that stands in stark contrast to the Compton that has by this point become a part of American legend. Focusing not on the violence and gang life artists like N.W.A and Kendrick Lamar have sensationalized but tackling much lighter subject matter immediately sets Buddy apart from his contemporaries and while the end result doesn’t hit as hard as the aforementioned artists, his vision is indeed refreshing.
With the exception of the poignantly introspective opener “Find Me”, Ocean & Montana’s
subject matter is nothing to delve into. What makes Ocean & Montana
succeed is how well Buddy and Kaytranada complement each other. Buddy’s delivery exudes confidence and along with Kaytranada’s production gives off a very old school west coast vibe. There are no “bangerz” nor anything that could hit harder than a small wave on the beach. The name of Buddy’s game is chill. This is typified completely in “World of Wonders” where the minimalist beat swims comfortably in the background buttressing one of the catchiest hooks of the year, the whole package giving supremely relaxing vibe perfect for the incoming summer. This laid-back energy permeates the whole EP and fits perfectly with the story of how these two came to work together:
” The energy in Santa Monica is not what I'm used to, growing up in Compton. Met Kaytranada soon after, told him his beats was tight, he told me my raps was tight, we made the EP. The rest is history.”
Despite the allure of lofty visions and important stances, sometimes art is born from something as simple as two dudes digging what the other is bringing. Ocean & Montana
is a eulogy of Buddy’s reverence for old school west coast brand of hip-hop and while Kaytranda’s career is going to have him rubbing shoulders with giants in the near future, it was nice of him to stop and smell the Californian sun-soaked roses, even if for the last time.