Kaytranada takes home the 2016 Polaris Music Prize

September 26, 2016

Last week, Canada’s hippest music award nailed it again when an 11-member grand jury comprised of some of Canada’s most distinguished music journalists awarded the Polaris Music Prize to Kaytranada (aka Louis Kevin Celestin) for his debut full-length album, 99.9%. The genre-bending/smashing/melting record, steeped in hip-hop and R&B but borrowing from electronic music, disco, funk, soul, and dance (and more!) landed Kaytranada the grand prize of $50,000 and, of course, the recognition that comes along with being chosen from a deeply talented well of nine other deserving Canadian artists.

Also notable is the fact that 99.9% is the first Polaris win for a black artist, and the first hip-hop-centric record to take the award home in the 11 years Polaris has existed. It was impossible to really divine favourites for the evening, but in a very pop-focused year, with seven out of ten nominees either being female artists or having female band members, Grimes’ Art Angels and Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion were both early front-runners. Of course, as the night wore on, it was clear that all of the records nominated stood a chance, from U.S. Girls’ brilliant avant-pop stunner Half Free to PUP’s scorching punk on their sophomore album The Dream Is Over. The latter were particularly present at the gala, despite their absence (aptly, the band was on tour overseas). They sent their parents to the gala to drink in their stead, and tweet with the hashtag #PUPsParentsAtPolaris, and also had a video testimonial from none other than Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame. The video testimonials were a highlight of the night—Jeff Tweedy on Andy Shauf’s The Party, Iggy Pop on Half Free, and Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes on Emotion particularly stood out. You can watch all of those, as well as the performances, on CBC Music’s YouTube Page.

Following his win, Kaytranada promised new material, and delivered almost immediately, releasing a mixtape named 0.001% on Wednesday. It’s almost an hour and a half long, so settle in for some sweet, sweet new tunes when you’ve got some free time.


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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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