Welcome to “New Music with Nick.” In this column, I will be reviewing some of the most notable new album releases across various genres, focusing on hip-hop, R&B and pop music. Join me in exploring the ever-shifting landscape of the streaming era.
Aminé & Kaytranada: “KAYTRAMINÉ” (May 19, 2023)
Once upon a time, “Caroline” broke into the rap charts and threw Aminé into the mainstream. Back then, I thought he might be another one-hit wonder that never strikes gold again. I shouldn’t have been so quick to reach that conclusion.
Over the last six years, Aminé has shown remarkable consistency and artistic growth. His versatility has allowed him to establish a huge fan base over the last half decade. With a wide-ranging appeal, he catches everyone from fans of pop-rap hits to the hip-hop heads that love lyricism and technical rapping.
With two impressive studio albums and two solid mixtapes, Aminé’s discography has been quite steady. His debut album “Good For You” (2017) was enjoyable and showed sparks of greatness. While it was maybe not the most consistent album, it was a fun project with some really great moments.
2020’s “Limbo” was a huge artistic step forward for Aminé. Not only was it the best project of his career, but it was one of the best hip-hop albums of that year. The album provided the lighthearted fun that Aminé is known for but with added depth and character development. His rapping had improved, beat selection had been refined and he demonstrated a clear understanding of how to put together a cohesive album. Songs like “Fetus,” “Burden” and “Roots” were not only some of his best songs ever, but they took a completely new direction with his style, sound and overall artistry.
For Aminé’s next solo album, I would expect continued growth as an artist and a great project that capitalizes on his ability and potential. However, I didn’t come into the collaborative album “KAYTRAMINÉ” expecting that same thing. I hoped for a quality record more focused on fun and catchiness rather than artistic excellence.
Collaborating with Kaytranada makes artistic sense for Aminé. Both are incredibly talented and versatile in their fields.
Kaytranada’s eclectic production has earned him one of the bigger fan bases of any modern producer. With a variety of sounds present in his music, there’s something for everyone. From Alternative R&B to Funk, Afrobeats and EDM, Kaytranada has not only shown a willingness to experiment but an excellence at doing so.
2016’s “99.9%” was a phenomenal debut album and put Kaytranada firmly into the mainstream. 2019’s “BUBBA” expanded his commercial reach along with his critical reception, establishing Kaytranada as a staying force in modern production. “BUBBA” won the 2021 Grammy Award for “Best Dance/Electronic Album,” and its lead single, “10%” with Kali Uchis, won the 2021 Grammy Award for “Best Dance Recording.”
“KAYTRAMINÉ” seemed like it was trying to be the quintessential summer album right off the bat. With a May 19 release date, the timing alone could have indicated that. Both of these artists have a certain style and energy that effortlessly fits the vibe of the season too.
The album cover itself is probably the most revealing part of their intention and sound. Both reclining on bright pink lounge chairs against a solid blue background, one smoking and one drinking, it’s pretty clear to see what they are going for — a collection of fun tracks that will give people enjoyable alternative hip-hop to enjoy during the summertime.
Overall, “KAYTRAMINÉ” is not a great album and it’s not really either of these artists at their peak of their individual work, but that’s okay. The two don’t seem to be trying to make a classic to define their own careers. The album was simply an opportunity to make fun music, write some catchy songs and enjoy the process of collaborating together.
The production is consistently solid, with a couple of real standouts. “K&A” was easily the highlight of the album. With beautiful samples and a wonderful beat switch, the outro really shows what these two can do at their peak. “Rebuke” is another really fantastic production showcase, featuring another beautiful sample flip. As a whole, the tracklist is very clean and sonically sharp, which is characteristic of Kaytranada’s work. It’s pretty easy to listen to from front to back. Although there are a few dips in quality here and there, overall, I’m satisfied with the selection of beats that Kaytranada put forth.
Aminé’s performances varied in quality. His rapping at times detracted from the album. “Ugh Ugh,” “STFU3,” and “Sossaup” all either fell flat or even became annoying. However, there are also some highs that rescue the album at points. “K&A” was a highlight on Aminé’s side, culminating in what I already mentioned as the runaway highlight of the album. “Westside” and “Master P” were also great performances. On “Rebuke,” Aminé’s effortlessly smooth presence complimented the sample immensely, resulting in another one of the album’s top tracks.
“KAYTRAMINÉ” feels like an album that is not worth over-analyzing. It’s a fun album to listen to for the summer and a cool moment for two talented artists to connect. Frankly, it’s an album to enjoy and take away whatever you can from. There’s not that much more to it than that.
Favorite Songs: “K&A,” “Rebuke,” “Master P,” “Westside”
Album Score: 68/100
Check out this Spotify Playlist and like it to follow along with some of my favorite songs of 2023 so far.
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.