Somewhere during my elementary school experience, I grew curious about what music lay beyond the comfortable confines of Christian car radio. The first time I ventured outside this bubble, what resulted was an unhealthily early obsession with ’00s teenage angst bands and consumption of “Naruto” Anime Music Videos (AMVs) on YouTube. Even as a first grader, I knew enough to understand that if my mom were to catch me listening to Three Days Grace and watching Naruto succumb to the nine-tailed fox demon inside him, it would be the end of me. But perhaps that was what drew me to keep listening. Now, a few years later, my second exploration of the wild would lead me to hip-hop. I have the honor of marking Kendrick Lamar’s decade defining “To Pimp a Butterfly as my first foray into this genre.” This album alone gave me a more than proper introduction to the height of conscious rap, offering intensely personal wisdom wrapped in incredible production.
So, when I came across Aminé’s breakout single, “Caroline,” I was unimpressed by the overtly sexual and pointless lyrics. But I couldn’t stop listening to it. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before and represented what I, a woke middle schooler reveling in philosophy, needed the most: fun. The bouncy chords and ridiculously catchy flows felt authentic to who Aminé was, and this personality continued to shine through on his debut album, “Good For You,” a colorful project with both wit and introspection. I personally fell for its production, likening “Good For You’s” yellow aesthetic to the orange flavor of Tyler, the Creator’s then-recently released “Flower Boy.” So, I was quite disappointed by the different levels of public recognition that the two albums received: While Tyler was praised as a one of a kind artist, Aminé was labelled as just another one hit wonder. Though now considered one of hip-hop’s most exciting acts of today, Aminé has since outgrown “Caroline” with a consistent output of creativity and color.
Yet whenever I listen to his latest project, “TWOPOINTFIVE,” I can’t help but think of his debut, with both projects embodying his bright and fun personality. This, however, was not what he set out to do with his second album, “Limbo.” As Aminé puts it in an interview with DJ SK Vibemaker, “The real title is to let people know I’m figuring [everything] out just like you […] So for me, Limbo was kind of a way to face some sort of ego death.” Appropriate, especially for the timeliness of its release during the pandemic. But now, Aminé seems to be enjoying the fast pace of his life after 2020, and it’s reflected in the faster tempos of the songs off “TWOPOINTFIVE.”
This project is the sequel to what Aminé calls an “EP/LP/mixtape/album,” titled “ONEPOINTFIVE”and released in 2018. Aminé dedicates this first series to developing his sound in a lower stakes environment, bridging his albums together in a way that his fans could witness in real time.
And this second tape is no different, proving to be his most experimental to date — Aminé takes hyperpop and smoothens out its rough edges, taking with him pitched vocals and bubbly synths. What results is a sugary pop rap record that translates Aminé’s eccentricity into music. While songs like “OKWME” and “meant2b” come off as bland and forgettable, the rest of this project is incredibly infectious and catchy, “Yipiyay” and “Between the Lines” only being a couple highlights that I enjoyed the most. Though sometimes indulging in the habit of relying too heavily on one flow, like in “Neo,” Aminé does a great job switching between various ideas in each song, allowing energy to course throughout the brief 26 minute runtime of this tape. For what it was intended to accomplish, “TWOPOINTFIVE” delivered more than I anticipated. I was not particularly impressed by its predecessor “ONEPOINTFIVE,” and yet, out of it came an amazing record with “Limbo.” Now, I can only begin to imagine what music Aminé could be cooking up for his next album.