Throughout all the goofiness in Aminé’s music, there’s always been a hearty earnestness to add more layers for a style regularly critiqued as one note. For every hit like “Compensating” and “Caroline,” there’s a more pensive exploration such as on “Dr. Whoever,” which reminds us he’s not just a quirky pop rap artist by presenting a harrowing tell-all, spilling his guts about broken homes, traumatic breakups and battles with mental health. Granted, that’s rare in his discography, though it shows he’s a bit more than his perception.
Aminé isn’t the most audacious rapper, but his energy and colorful beat selection haven’t required him to rethink his lyrics all that much. His 2021 mixtape TWOPOINTFIVE upped the oddball energy, so when the time came to make another full project, it was only logical that Aminé needed a producer whose sound was elastic enough to fit his style.
Turns out, Aminé didn’t need to look far. Back in 2014, the Portland rapper sent a DM to Montreal producer Kaytranada in an effort to work together. Just a year later, Aminé dropped Calling Brio which had a handful of production credits from Kaytra himself. The results were predictable but it set the groundwork for what would be a fast start to his career. Aminé’s bombastic presence over bouncy, eclectic beats encouraged him to act his goofy self. Given the summery feel of these tracks, picturing the two of them collaborating on the same album felt like a natural next step. Thus, Kaytraminé was born.
The aesthetic of the duo’s debut isn’t too far removed from their initial partnership. Kaytra’s beats have evolved and contain more subtleties buried within, but Aminé’s raps feel oddly stagnant thanks to generic punchlines and overzealous crude bars. “You know Aminé livin’ where the coochie live,” he raps on the chorus of “Who He Iz” before stating that he’s “one of the few men who know where the clit is.” Luckily, the backing instrumental offers up a warm waviness that makes it easier to ignore the hollow raps.
Aminé’s sleaziness seems to be at its highest whenever Kaytra is at his weirdest. The beat behind “STFU3” balances eeriness with Kaytra’s signature bounce as Aminé raps about wanting some guy to shut up. Sure, it’s the third installment in this aggressively named track series, but the shtick isn’t as impactful, even if you care about the Amine lore. Luckily, this isn’t a recurring theme across the other tracks.
Some of the more subdued songs such as the Freddie Gibbs-assisted “letstalkaboutit” allow Aminé’s charisma to shine without getting too corny. The track pairs a Clipse sample with a shimmering backdrop that sees Aminé joking about Minnesota Timberwolves all star Karl-Anthony Towns and bluntly referencing Ciara’s “Goodies” (“Then shawty give me the goodies like Ciara”). His wordplay isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but the direct similes are fine enough to work with. On the other hand, “Master P” manages to bring out what is possibly the best Big Sean verse in years, while Amine matches the tongue-in-cheek style that brought Sean to prominence.
The Pharrell-assisted “4EVA” might be the least adventurous of all the tracks on the album, but its breezy hook and sticky verses are joyous enough to warrant its placement on many party playlists. In fact, all of the features on Kaytraminé accentuate Kaytra’s production. Amaarae sounds right at home on “Sossaup” while Snoop Dogg’s relaxed flow is the ideal voice to place on the penultimate track “Eye.”
Even with formidable features, Aminé can’t escape his lyrical laziness. On “Sossaup,” he resorts once more to half-baked similes (“I feel like Beyoncé, I’m finna upgrade you”) and mediocre wordplay (“R.I.P. to Virgil, her friends always Off-White”). It’s clear he’s trying to sell his charismatic appeal with jokes, but they feel more like Lil Dicky than Zack Fox.
On the final track, “K&A,” Aminé seemingly pulls a move right out of Drake’s bag and goes for an introspective ending. The self-empowering track functions almost like a recap of what he’s been up to since his last album, but the bragging feels out of place in comparison to the other tracks. Kaytra’s soulful beat sounds appropriate for the closing thoughts, even as Aminé spends the time mostly feeling himself. It might be warranted given his ascension, but it does bring the party to an abrupt end.
Flaunting palpable chemistry, Kaytraminé accomplishes its goal of serving as a collection of summer-ready anthems, rarely aspiring to be more than that. Kaytra’s beats fit the aesthetic to a tee, but Aminé’s over-indulgence in cheeky humor and miscalibrated wordplay turns it into a shakier affair. Despite the middling lyricism, Kaytraminé finds a way to carry itself to the finish line thanks to Kaytranada’s vibrant palette of instrumentals and Aminé’s high-octane energy.