Portland's shining star, Amine ups his bets even more with his latest body of work, "ONEPOINTFIVE"
Written by Kolin Miller
Favorite tracks: SUGARPARENTS. REEL IT IN. CANTU.
By now, I’m sure just about everybody knows the 2016, off-kilter hit “Caroline,” and it’s homely, yellow-dipped music video with masterfully ham-fisted Tarantino references which compliment the lyrics. Obviously, from the jump, the rapper behind this piece of work is very polarizing. Love him or hate him, however, Aminé burst into the spotlight with a sly tenacity and refreshingly creative positivity. I will admit that while I enjoyed “Caroline” when I first heard it, I was able to recognize how radio-friendly it’s sound truly was, and I knew almost instantly just how overplayed it would be in the near future - yes this is my self-righteous way of proclaiming how much deeper my appreciation of music is than you by saying I found a track that blew up before it was big; and yes this makes me a better person than you.
Too much? Sometimes I wish I could post recordings of my voice reading my articles so my readers can have a read-along and hear when I’m being sarcastic…if only there was some kind of way to do that.
Anyways, getting back on track, I really want to point out that while many people absolutely loved this eccentric, smooth, hip-pop sound Aminé so masterfully crafted, there were some that remained skeptical. I was one of those people. Personally, I really enjoyed the feel of “Caroline,” but I was worried that this particular rapper would become today’s version of a “one-hit-wonder” which I like to call a “money-gone” rapper - a rapper who upon making a lot of money from a hit/mixtape/body of work/project, they’re gone, *POOF*, like yesterday’s fidget spinner craze. Okay, maybe they don’t really disappear, but their content either severely declines in quality, or they get signed to a major label and have to leave behind a lot of their originally crafted sound to cater to a larger audience which alienates their original fanbase, or the industry just simply decides the artist’s particular flavor isn’t interesting anymore.
The point is they are a flash in the pan, they get their 15, and the industry doesn’t give them the time of day for the rest of their careers. It’s a sad phenomenon that happens, as most of these artists don’t really have a hand in this process, and at the end of the day, they’re just artists who want to make music and who depend on popularity to make a living. I was worried because of how serious and depressing and dark the music that the hip-hop industry was for the most part, that the second Aminé’s entire message surged to the mainstream in juxtaposition to the status quo, we as a fickle and demanding consumer-base would tear him apart like starved pitbulls who had been served a diet consisting of strictly Xanax and Patek water.
I speak in hyperbole because the reality of hip-hop as a whole is much stranger than fiction itself, and hyperbole truly only scratches the surface of understanding just where the hell we are and where we are going sonically. Well, lucky for everyone, I was wrong!
Amine went on to release a couple singles proceeded by his debut project Good For You, (2017) which proved that his unique style he teased in his breakout hit would not lose its’ flavor, and would not be watered down in efforts to sell out reach a broader audience (hence Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book). Yes, Aminé’s debut album was pleasantly surprising. My favorite track had to be the intro track which features some magnificent vocals by Ty Dolla $ign, and a disgustingly hard beat switch - yes it made me do the big quint face.
Anyways, the album itself is a solid project, through and through, with some pop-ish singles that are a blast to sing along to, some really clever wordplay, fresh production, and just overall happy sounds for ya’ ears.
Aminé did not disappear after his debut album, quite the contrary, he actually recently dropped his newest project, ONEPOINTFIVE. ONEPOINTFIVE is named such because while it is his second project to be released, in his own words, it’s not really his “second album,” in fact, he calls it an ‘EpLpMixtapeAlbum.’ This distinction seems important, as according to him, he made this project when he was supposed to be working on his official second album - read the story in his own words here.
Imagine if I spent all this time, laying out all this context for my upcoming opinion, and then I just said I liked it and left no further explanation. Wouldn’t that be downright frustrating? To think I wasted 10-15 minutes of your time reading this, deciphering my rambling, clicking my carefully selected hyperlinks, only to say “I personally liked the album.” Okay, I’ll stop wasting your time. The truth is, I was very conflicted with this album, and I will try and explain why.
As a standalone project, it is very cohesive at face value. The intro track, DR. WHOEVER, is Aminé at his most vulnerable; lyrics like “Man, I’ve thought about suicide a hundred times…” really show us a side of Aminé we may have known was there, but has never been willingly exposed to us as the listeners before. I really wish the rest of the album/mixtape/ep/whatever stayed in this lane; but then again I’m not sure. Maybe the weight of the lyrical content is so hefty because it is so unexpected and rare for a rapper of his caliber to admit to wrestling with suicide and depression. While the intro track quite honestly blew me away, the rest of the tracks don’t give us anything quite like what we get from the intro.
Consequently, this does NOT mean the rest of the tracks were bad, they just didn’t really leave quite an impression on me as the intro. Yes, the features are all really solid - my personal favorite is Rico Nasty on “SUGARPARENTS” - and yes, there are some decent Aminé-only tracks, but I would be remiss in my duties as an opinion-blogger if I didn’t somehow mention the fact that I felt a little disappointed overall. The Aminé I have gotten to know over the past couple years only showed up haphazardly on ONEPOINTFIVE.
I felt like the Aminé we got on ONEPOINTFIVE was a more distant or more hollow version of aforementioned Aminé. "Good For You" gleamed with a yellow-uplifting-happy ambiance, while ONEPOINTFIVE emitted a conforming-bland-greyish color with only a tinge of the yellow from the previous project. All these poorly constructed metaphors are really just me saying that Aminé didn’t sound washed up, or out of material, or less matured, or desperate for sales on this album - he simply didn’t live up to his own standard he’s set for himself, and this album kinda just blended in with all the other “meh” projects that have come out in the past year or so. I won’t really remember the first time I listened to this album, I won’t be putting all my friends onto it, and most tracks won’t make it into my rotation of music often if at all; but at the same time I don’t hold it against him, it doesn’t tarnish my opinion of Aminé, and I don’t doubt with an ounce of my being that whatever projects Aminé will go on to release in the future will be as good or better than his debut album.
And sincerely, Aminé, I want to applaud you for being brave enough to be so vulnerable and have the courage to continue to flex unashamedly. It takes some real guts to be honest about these kinds of things in hip-hop and as a male in the public spotlight, where you are expected to “man up” or disregarded because “he’s a rapper and he’s rich,” or something stupid like that.
Listen to the project below.
Follow Kollin for more updates and stories here.