Sometimes all it takes is one.
For Aminé (uh-MEEN-aye), it took “Caroline,” a single that he parlayed into a contract with Republic Records, hit No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and that is certified Platinum three times over. Not bad for a rapper from Portland, a city previously known for producing zero notable rappers ever.
“Caroline” swiftly arrived as such a dominant force that listeners should easily be forgiven for rushing to cry "INDUSTRY PLANT!". Two facts still remain, though: Aminé has been at this longer than you think, and has already positioned himself as a much more political voice than his breakthrough single might immediately suggest; the smash hit remains an infectiously sticky wellspring of pop joy.
Good For You, his major label debut, arrives today (July 28) as the culmination of a year in which Aminé has risen from anonymity to “one-hit wonder” to one of the most exciting young voices in hip-hop.
It’s one of the most enjoyable albums of 2017.
Moving past the amusingly ostentatious image of him taking a shit on the artwork, Good For You is as musically bright and eccentric as the front cover and the personality of the artist who made it.
Best suited for sunny days, the album is filled with beats that shine, glisten, whomp and whirr. An all-star team of producers—which includes Metro Boomin, Frank Dukes, Murda Beatz, Disclosure, Jahaan Sweet, Malay, JGramm and more—crafted a polished soundbed that is futuristic, yet remains nostalgically warm throughout.
For as lush and enveloping as the production sounds, Aminé remains the unequivocal star of the show. Like much of the current rap spectrum, Good For You leans heavily on melody, a near-even blend of rapping and singing. Aminé isn't the greatest singer, but he’s a capable vocalist and whatever he lacks in range he makes up for with tightly-packed songwriting and the ability to effortlessly glide from cadence to cadence. Unlike a mass of carbon-copy peers that similarly employ such a hybrid vocal approach, Aminé packs storytelling and inventiveness into his music. It's difficult to imagine a hip-hop/R&B fan that doesn't find something they connect with on the album, which ranges from boisterous anthems to pensive raps to sugary ballads.
Aminé is 23 years old, and Good For You is perched on the fence between adolescence and adulthood, one foot in youthful innocence and recklessness and the other in the responsibility and worry of growing up. Aminé is rooted in early 20s love, lust and conflict, fed up with his peers’ need for flexing and fitting in at the expense of trading their individuality (“STFU”) but at times needing to flex and show off himself (“Humble”). He encapsulates his duality as a “young lil n*gga with a 40-year old soul” in the album’s opener, “Veggies”; someone who does his best to avoid the link-and-build fam ever-present at the party in search of something greater, yet youthful enough to throw casual nods to Spongebob, Jimmy Neutron and “Heartbreak Drake for my first heartbreak.”
It’s this duality that sets Aminé apart. Still young, he has the mind of someone older and wiser, one that battles the unknowing of faith and religion (“Sundays”), of love (“Caroline,” Hero,” “Spice Girl”) and loss (“Wedding Crashers”), of the need for money and the need to question that need (“Money”), and of balancing holding onto the past and sprinting toward the future (“Turf,” “Beach Boy”). Yet, his youthful spirit brings an effervescent joy that takes some of the weight off more serious topics and gives a bounce to everyday life.
There's an interlude on "Turf" that asks, "What's the age? Too young to worry, too old to dream. What's the age? Imagination to me, tragedy to some. What's the age? I guess we'll find out when we're older."
Aminé has worries and he still has dreams, he still has imagination and still has tragedy. He's old enough to realize this but young enough to push it aside to have some fun. Good For You recognizes all of this in a package that doesn't quite know all the answers, but makes the journey into figuring them out sound like a hell of a time.
3 Standout Songs
"Yellow" ft. Nelly
"Yellow" features Nelly and is produced by Metro Boomin, Murda Beatz and Frank Dukes. If you possibly needed any additional motivation to listen after reading that sentence, you need to go see a doctor. Preferably, you need to go see that doctor driving way too fast, blaring “Yellow” as loud as your speakers allow.
"Wedding Crashers" ft. Offset
A dedication to ex-lovers, “Wedding Crashers” is an anthemic, if a bit vindictive, ode to the one who got away. The production gleams, the chorus will be stuck in your head for days, and any Offset guest verse is a welcome guest verse.
“Success ain't 'bout the fame and how much jewels you rock. Success is when I can tell my momma to quit her job.” Money makes the world go ‘round, but it’s not what makes you happy. Aminé has realized this and hopes to relay this knowledge to all over a slinking bassline and creeping synths, one of the few tracks that are much better-suited for late-night reflection.