In his new project “TWOPOINTFIVE,” Portland rapper Aminé finds himself working with new producers in a new electronic style that makes his take on feel-good, melodic pop-rap sound as fresh as ever.
As the follow-up to 2020’s “Limbo,” Aminé advertised the new project as an “EP/LP/mixtape/album,” in the same vein as his 2018 project “ONEPOINTFIVE.” Partially as a joke directed at some artists’ tendencies to write off a commercially weak album as a mixtape, and partially just as an excuse to experiment musically outside of the expectations of being in “album mode,” both of Aminé’s “POINTFIVE” projects have served as shorter, lighter works in between his more cohesive albums. After the Drake-inspired, melodic “Good for You” in 2017, “ONEPOINTFIVE” was a more traditional braggadocious, trap-inspired record. And now, as a follow-up to the Kanye West “Late Registration”-inspired alt-rap of 2020’s “Limbo,” the 26-minute “TWOPOINTFIVE” finds Aminé at an artistic crossroads, dabbling in a style unlike any from his past projects.
While the singsong flows and feel-good vibes of Aminé’s last projects are still present, “TWOPOINTFIVE” finds the rapper experimenting with a new style of production — a groovy, electropop sound that feels somewhere in between Brockhampton’s “SATURATION” trilogy, Vince Staples’ “Big Fish Theory” and the hyperpop-inspired “rage” beat from trap artists like Trippie Redd and SoFaygo. More so than any of his commercial projects, “TWOPOINTFIVE” resembles 2015’s “Calling Brio” — an early Aminé mixtape featuring hip-hop, electro, Afrobeat fusion with notable dance music producers like Kaytranada. The same bouncy, electronic vibe is all over “TWOPOINTFIVE,” though this time Aminé approaches the beats with sharper lyrics and a better ear for flows.
The project starts off slow with “YiPiYaY,” a more traditional-sounding pop-rap track, before really leaning into the electronic sound in “Colors.” Early album tracks like “Colors” and “OKWME” feature Aminé trading bars with himself over eclectic beats, alternating verses with a pitched-up singing voice and his regular-flowing rap voice. “Dididumduhduh” is another highlight, with one of the most subdued beats on the project, where Aminé starts a moody singing voice before transitioning into the second verse with a series of disenchanted brags about his new life full of women and cars.
The peak of the album comes with the back-to-back tracks “Twisted!” and lead single “Charmander.” These are two of the highest-energy tracks on the project, goofy and braggadocious, with some of the most creative beats. Aminé brags about being “at Disney doin’ acid” in “Twisted!” over a house-inspired dance beat. “Charmander” most resembles the high-energy, 8-bit production of producers like Pi’erre Bourne but with Aminé’s signature twist — flipping a pitched-up, dubstep-sounding vocal sample as the hook. “Born for this like Matt Dam’, red whip look like Chastain,” he raps, among several pop culture references and double-entendres in the song’s two verses.
The project also finds Aminé branching out further with his producers, a process he began “Limbo” with veterans like T-Minus and continues in “TWOPOINTFIVE” with two big names from the Soundcloud trap scene — F1lthy and Maaly Raw. Both known for their work with sound-expanding trap rappers like Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti, Aminé tapped the producers for the songs “meant2b” and “Dididumduhduh,” respectively, bringing a more abrasive, high-energy feel to the project. Combined with another strong set of beats from longtime producer Pasque, “TWOPOINTFIVE” has Aminé’s most consistent and unique production yet.
Overall, while wildly different from the laid-back, cheerful, pop rap that some fans may have expected, “TWOPOINTFIVE” is Aminé in an experimental mode, taking his strengths as a rapper and pushing himself with new production. And as an “EP/LP/mixtape/album” falling somewhere in between more cohesive projects, it’s very successful in keeping things dynamic and varied. It proves Aminé has enough fresh ideas to keep his next album, whenever that may be, worth watching out for.