WAXED OUT delivers new music to keep your record collection fresh & stacked to the ceiling
words by @Evan_Gabriel photos by @HaardyHaar
Right from the intro skit, Aminé’s sophomore EP, En Vogue, poses a plea for clarity. Clashing with same voices of doubt featured on the intro of 2013’s Odyssey To Me, Aminé’s muddy singing appears untriumphant, drowning. Yet in his first verse, the 20-year-old Portland native ties a noose to end the world’s preoccupation with the plastic, the shimmery and the intangible–what the French call “fashionable.”
Two weeks ago, E+E flew to New York to host our second Young x Hungry party, which was held at the Tribeca Grand Hotel and featured performances by your very own Mandatory Bounce, Akki, Staten Island’s Swizzy Swinton and Aminé featuring the Livin Band. After having spent the summer interning for Complex Magazine and soon to start back at Portland State University in the fall, Aminé was totally collected. Ready to flex on New York with his live band in Manhattan and drop an album a week later. No problem.
Young x Hungry part II was a massive success and Aminé proved he could hold his own on the stage, even in unfamiliar terrain. Our interview last spring was the first time I met Aminé and Jahosh, but in seeing what just short of six months can do for a couple of dedicated musicians in the early stages of their careers, it’s exciting the also witness the finished project as a listener.
The strength of En Vogue is that it both critical and relevant. He’s not afraid to tout his influences, particularly Damian Marley. This time around the patois sounds tighter, more naturally a part of his deliverance. While Aminé addresses what’s lacking in most rappers’ hearts he actively delivers what’s in his. Take for example “Game Needs Me.” Sporting a slowed-down Jay Z sample and Just Blazesque drums, producer Jahosh provides a great track for Aminé to run on.
“Turnin’ up when the world is corrupt…welcome to America, the land of the weak, where everybody tweets but don’t know how to speak.”
Replace En Vogue with The Day of The Locust and call Aminé Nathaniel West and suddenly you’ve got a modern critique of our absent-minded lust for fame, but instead of Tod Hackett recognizing his aversion to this life while watching Faye Greener chain smoke on windowsills, Aminé paints us a twenty first century version:
“How you love social media but you be unsocial, tweeting ‘bout your ex and how you be so loyal, a million followers but you got no money, famous with no talent man that shit is pretty funny.”
Suddenly En Vogue is clearly the story of one man’s exploration of a world he is entering while simultaneously trying to refute. As an MC, Aminé finds nothing chic about young girls twerking, common usage of the N-word or college kids flexing on Instagram.
Perhaps the most important song on the EP is “Get Down.” While it can sound overly poppy at first, this track revealed to me the largest step in progression since “Odyssey To Me.” Jahosh’s production shines through waves of springtime synths and upbeat snares and Aminé continues to mesh the worlds of R&B and Rap, harmonizing with the silky voice of Emily Liberia. We even get a quick flashback directly into OTM’s “Oliver + Jordana.”
“And I’m starin’ at your eyes like, I’m trying to get this figured out…I got catch a plane, a jet, a cab, I gotta go.”
Part tragedy, part celebration, En Vogue works to reinstall a sense of purpose into people’s actions. Cuts like “Mr. Nobody” and “Oregon Fair” round the project out with a dose of humility. Aminé doesn’t run from the underdog title. But for how much longer “that guy” is going to be the one driving Benzs and having all the hips is yet to be seen.