With all the music that’s released this day in age, it’s tough to say what’s going to make it to the forefront of popularity what’s going to fall to the wayside. As many know, plenty of artists often get overlooked not because of their music but the marketing surrounding the body of work is off by a little bit. If notoriety is the endgame for a particular artist, then promotions can be the most challenging aspect of a career, even tougher than making the music itself. At this point in the game, one has to start talking about their album long before it’s even made if they want to guarantee sales, airplay, and tours. This leads to even trickier circumstances because now that artist has to deliver big results on said album. In the end, the more hype on an album, the less wiggle room there is for experimenting without accountability. In the last year or so, the best example of this phenomena is rapper Aminé.
Fans were first introduced to the Portland artist over a year ago when the music video for Caroline dropped on YouTube and became the best single of summer 2016, at least within the hip hop community. Unfortunately, this is all fans were given to chew on (other than some prior, lackluster mixtapes) until exactly a year later when another single, REDMERCEDES, dropped in the same way with a video on YouTube. The latter single didn’t garner as much attention as the former and, for a while, it looked like Aminé was going to fall off before his debut LP was even released. Nevertheless, Aminé’s first full length effort, Good For You, finally dropped a week ago. The album is good, but is that because it’s good, or because fans want it to be good? Let’s take a look.
For those that want the short version, the key to what makes Aminé’s album strong is that it’s a fun album. Full of witty lyricism that that seems contemplative is what fans will stay for on Good For You, while the heavy synth backed by a heavier yellow aesthetic is what draws them in.
The album opens with Veggies and Yellow; two tracks that while sounding similar, they both serve as a good introduction to the album and artist. Substantial on the music and clever on the verses, Aminé uses the first songs to explain himself, especially on Yellow. Towards the end of the second verse there’s a line that goes “I rock yellow on some yellow like what purple is to Prince” that sums up who Aminé is. In a world where most artists in most genres are trying to look and sound like each other, Aminé stands out with his bright appearance and music. This goes back to marketing and how it can be done wisely. There aren’t many interviews with Aminé where yellow isn’t brought up. While he’s expressed that he genuinely likes the color, it’s a smart direction as it allows him to stand apart from his contemporaries.
It was surprising to see that Caroline was included on Good For You. After a year and a half of airplay on the radios and at every party, one would think that Aminé would’ve used the extra space on the album to put out more new music. I suppose Three 6 Mafia is still celebrating their Oscar Award so why can’t Aminé still ride the success of one of the best rap songs to come out last year? In this writer’s opinion, the song still slaps so it was good to hear it again as it’s been a while since I last heard it.
As stated above, Good For You is a fun album. There aren’t many serious moments on the album where Aminé becomes introspective or observational of current events. Any observations that he does make seem to pertain to his own life and even then, he doesn’t seem to let any personal events weigh him down. “Friends need an Uber, sis need tuition, fans want the music, but they want a politician” he claims on STFU and this line encapsulates much of what he and many artists go through in their genesis while trying to make a name for themselves. In our article on Jay-Z’s 4:44, we mentioned the exclusivity in hip hop and how certain artists in the genre attempt to elevate themselves above fans. This happens in all genres but for the sake of this article, we’re talking about Hip Hop. As far as his career stands now, Aminé is smart to make a fun album that draws people in with humble yet, clever wordplay. While political and serious albums do good, the risk of polarizing listeners is present when doing so. It should also be noted that there’s a rising trend in hip hop of nihilism so to hear someone like Aminé having a good time is refreshing.
Favorite track on the album is definitely Beach Boy. Following a similar format to the multi-platinum Caroline, the track is high energy and utilizes the piano in a way that turns it into a rhythm instrument instead of a melodic one. There’s a nice group vocal on the hook that actually sounds like a group rather than a multi-track of the same voice for the same effect (which never has the same effect).
So marketing; is it tougher to make it, or make music? As most musicians will say, they were in the right place at the right time, which is true. In most cases, there’s no such thing as too much hype surrounding an album, but in some cases there is. So really, promotion is all a chess game; when to move and when to hold back. So far, Aminé was just playing his pawns by releasing tracks like Caroline and REDMERCEDES, and with the release of Good For You, the other pieces are stating to move. In terms of chess, it’ll be exciting to see what the young rapper’s queen piece can do as the game really heats up.
Click here to listen to Beach Boy.
– By Mike Metcalf