Headphones: Keys N Krates Drop Electric Debut Album


Since their breakout in 2008, Keys N Krates have dropped a series of several EPs featuring some of the most prominent names in electronic music. Finally, in February 2018, the Canadian group featuring drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse, and turntablist Jr. Flo has dropped their debut album Cura. Combining a track list of non-vocal productions as well as vocal features, the group’s first studio album dives deeply into the capabilities of the electronic trio.

Keys N Krates’ 2014 single “Dum Dee Dum” is credited for much of the group’s success and popularity. The single is the only track of the group’s musical releases that have been certified Gold. Like many of Keys N Krate’s tracks, the song meshed hip-hop and trap sounds with an electronic flair that has given the group a unique sound from other electronic music groups.

The opening track of the album, “Início” follows the trend of the group’s music beginning with a sample of Brazilian producer Arthur Verocai’s “Na Boca Do Sol”. Like a number of Keys N Krate’s songs “Início” does not feature any vocals, but instead only the skilled beat production of the group. The group’s primary DJ, Greg Dawson better known as Jr. Flo mixes the unique blend of horns at different tempos with several electronic beats to create an epic banger to start the album off.

The next track off the group’s debut album, “Music To My Ears”, began with a pop beat mixed with a distinctive drum line and traditional electronic sounds. After creating the tune, the group recruited R&B and hip-hop artist Torey Lanez to lay down the vocals for the track. The uplifting track complimented by the fellow Canadian’s soft pitch fits perfectly with the title. Lanez adds his trademarked metaphoric lyrics to the track, on full display when he raps, “Listen when I play this, this is not a playlist/We've been on the same shit, I ain't tryin' to change shit/Got girls that be tryin' to get famous, but they remain nameless/Saw you got me on a wait list, damn right, I'm awaitin' this”. Being one of the few and only rappers on the album, Torey Lanez adds a unique sound to the track list that incorporates hip-hop sounds with electronic beats.

The album’s title song, “Cura”, shows the full capabilities of the group’s production skills. In an incredibly elegant track, the trio alters the sounds of basic piano and guitar progressions to create a slow-paced dance tune that appeals to both the electronic and trap crowds. The warped sound of the instruments in the song add to the overall vibe that makes the listeners want to dance.

The group teased the possible release of their album in November of 2017 when they dropped the single “Glitter”. Using another fast-paced, vibrant electronic beat as the base for the song the Canadian trio added the soulful voice of up-and-coming R&B singer Ambré Perkins to lay down a smooth vocal track. The three-and-a-half-minute track is a perfect summer hit that combines the energetic beat of the group’s DJ with the soothing voice of the soul singer. The song as a whole has a slower pace than the normal tempos of the group’s tracks. In a recent breakdown of the track for Billboard, the group said, “We laid down some simple-ass piano chords that we liked over a little skeletal kick pattern and threw it in our vocal session folder.”

“Glitter”, along with several other tracks from the album, is accompanied by videos produced by the group’s record label Dim Mak Records. The record label, founded by fellow electronic artist Steve Aoki, has created a series of visual masterpieces to accompany the set list of songs. The video for “Glitter” features Perkins walking and dancing throughout an urban city accompanied by mesmerizing lights and the song's lyrics. The video is elevated with its manipulation of lights that match the changing of the beat with Perkin’s flowing voice adding a beautiful contrast to the video.

“Flute Loop” featuring the audio production skills of producer Ouici is entirely built around a sound described by the track’s title.

With this literal flute loop providing the chorus for the track, the rest of the song’s production comes from the group’s turntablist who matches the bouncy and upbeat vibe of the chorus with a series of samplings similar to what Keys N Krates often produces. The track gives off an energetic feeling that seems to be a trend across the entire album. By teaming up with a fellow producer, the trio is able to showcase their vast audio production skills combined with their ability to build a song around a simple sound.

The album’s final feature track, “My Night”, brings in another rising R&B star into the mix of the album. 070 Shake, the New Jersey-based group, have been showcasing their unique vocal talents across the music world with their solo tracks, but especially with their features. Led by singer Shake, the group brings a new sound to pair with the electronic tune of Keys N Krates. The laid-back vibe of the singer counteracts the dance vibe of the progression the trio produces. Overall, the song is a trippy dance song that is quickly transformed into an R&B track led by the powerful voices of 070 Shake.

On Cura, the vast skill-set of the electronic trio of Keys N Krates is on full display. Despite defining themselves inside the electronic genre, the group shows that they are capable of producing music for fans of a wide range of genres. By manipulating their traditional electronic sounds, the group appeals to fans of pop, hip-hop, R&B, and trap music on their debut album. Keys N Krates have found a way to introduce new musical concepts into their own music with a slew of features as well as manipulating the distinctive electronic tunes they often use. The use of cross-genre production combined with a list of features from artists outside the electronic sphere is what truly makes this 9-track album so captivating.