You may not know native Portland, Oregon, born rapper Aminé by name just yet, but give it a little time and I guarantee you will. In fact, I’m sure you’ve already heard his chart smashing single, Caroline, which was released last summer, and now has over 240,000,000 streams on Spotify alone. Amazingly enough, Aminé has remained relatively low-key despite making some pretty big splashes in the music industry over the last year, including earning a spot in this year’s XXL freshman list. Aminé’s entire aesthetic from his sound to his personal style is eccentric and bright, yet keenly always put together. He exudes an aura of youthful free spiritedness; effortlessly flowing over a wide variety of instrumentals with a soulful persistence.
The Pacific Northwest has hailed as home to a lot great artists across many genres, rap not being one of them. So it’s only fitting that the first rap artist, to come out of the PDX area, with a legitimate shot at becoming something great, turns out to be this rich character with such an eclectic blending of styles and inspirations. Aminé doesn’t have an image to keep up with or a sound to try to mimic because he’s really the first of his kind. We know what an Atlanta rapper should sound like, what a Detroit rapper should sound like, and what a Chicago rapper should sound like. But what should a Portland rapper sound like? This lack of a preconceived idea of what hip hop music from Oregon should sound like, gives Aminé a unique creative freedom to sort of make his own reality as he goes.
I could easily see the banana club, brand, that Aminé is building evolve and catch fire in the same way that Tyler the creator’s “GolfWang” universe took over. Aminé and his friends create content that feels organic. They aren’t necessarily trying to make some profound statement with their videos but rather the fact that they’re doing it themselves, independently, and doing it well for that matter makes all the statement it needs. Especially in a day and age, where everyone is trying to label themselves as this or that, it’s refreshing to have an artist that has a sense of self-awareness and lets his work speak for itself.
Aminé shows the potential of becoming an important figure in hip hop and urban culture. His persona carries a quirky disposition, but beneath that surface level there is definitely something of substance. In his first ever appearance on live television Aminé delivers an electric performance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel. At the end of his set, he breaks out into a poetic freestyle discussing the current state of race relations in America. In a few bars, Aminé talks about being black and proud, and even takes a shot at Donald Trump by saying “you could never make America great again, all you ever did was make this country hate again.” He shows great poise and intelligence, and is able to talk about social issues without being preachy or corny.
Aminé’s debut album, Good for You, is set to be released on Friday, July 28. All signs up to this point lead me to believe that this album is going to be a good one, and that Aminé is an artist to keep your eye on.
Songs you need to hear: