WAXED OUT delivers new music to keep your record collection fresh & stacked to the ceiling
words and photos by @Evan_Gabriel
Boiling down the music of nineteen-year-old rapper Aminé is no exact science. There are various particles involved. Yet, from the opening lines of his debut album, “Odyssey To Me,” he explains his voyage:
“I’ve been searching for myself, I’ve been wondering who I am,
Lost in a place, no trace, on the odyssey.”
To understand the unique sound of this album, E&E took a trip to the Infinit Records where we spoke with Aminé and his producer/manager Jahosh.
“When we were making the album we were struggling, was this happy music? Was this dark music?” Aminé remembers, sinking into a plush leather couch. “Then I came up with “Odyssey To Me,” because it felt like I was finding myself in the different genres I enjoy.
The album cover takes its design from the 2010 british film, “Submarine.”
“When I watched that movie I related so much to that character, Oliver. But honestly, the cover is what caught my attention. I thought, this would definitely catch someone’s eye if they wanted to listen something,” Aminé says.
“Aminé,” which means “I believe” in Ethiopia, met Jahosh through Track at Portland’s Benson High School. The two recorded some material together, but after Aminé’s senior year, with Jahosh long graduated, he was unsure of how to pursue music. So he reached out to Jahosh, this time with focused intention. Jahosh agreed to sell him beats while using the money to upgrade studio equipment.
A year later, Aminé enrolled at Portland State University where he met a classical pianist and a violinist who he added to his musical arsenal. Thus, Aminé’s music was quickly diversified.
“Without these people,” Aminé says, referring to the musicians, “OTM wouldn’t sound like this, without a doubt.”
The word “organic” is somewhat of a tagline when it comes to hip hop artist describing their creative process. When it comes to “Odyssey To Me,” however, the word couldn’t be more appropriate.
“That whole first verse is all freestyle, just us having fun,” Aminé says, recounting the first track, “OTM.” “I always told myself I was going to redo it, but when it came to mixing and mastering it just sounded dope, so we kept it.”
“That first section was to signify his dream,” Jahosh adds. “That’s why you hear his mom saying Adam, wake up. I like the fact that it was freestyle, that he was dreaming that. That’s where we hope to be,” Jahosh says.
Listening to “Odyssey To Me” feels like watching a promising ballplayer take batting practice at Spring training. With songs like “Can I Cuuuut” and “25” feat. Tos, Aminé rips line drives to either side of the field, demonstrating his proficiency in hip hop bangers.
Aminé also focuses heavily on the memories of past loves that linger like scents on a pillow. But he is never afraid to reveal his shortcomings with the opposite sex:
“As I was writing this shit, I get a text from my old girl, talking about she wants to be more than sober, asking if I want to go to the movies though, I told her sorry girl, I’m in the studio,
she said, ‘LoL’, the studio? C’mon Adam, you’ll probably never make it though” – “OTM”
Still, Aminé utilizes songs like “My Emotions” to really break down his odyssey:
“You put me on this earth, for a reason, but can I know, can I know, what’s the reason?”
When asked about working with other local artist, both Aminé and Jahosh cite big egos and the politics of ownership as roadblocks.
“At the end of the day, this is music and you’re trying to make the best possible music for the consumer,” Jahosh says. “As an artist, you’re just a vehicle for that message. Some people don’t get that yet.”
“Most rappers wouldn’t even want to rap on eighty-percent of the beats we use,” Aminé says. “With Tos, [featured on “25”] he came here the studio and we just vibed. So he wrote his verse then and there, in front of all of us.”
Aminé’s lyrics are peppered with a consistent Jamaican patois, an influence he attributes to three specific artists.
“My older cousin would always play me D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and Damian Marley whenever we were riding in his car,” Aminé recounts. “Every Summer I intern at Def Jam Records. I can remember walking around New York after work, feeling lonely, but just listening to those three artists constantly.”
While he isn’t rapping, Aminé spends his free time in a midi-keyboard lab in the PSU campus, working on production.
“When you’re doing music in your hometown, your hometown are the last people to get on your music. So you have to take it with a grain of salt,” Aminé says.
As dynamic as Aminé’s style is, he and Jahosh recognize that the internet is over saturated with new rappers. For this reason, they are focused on promoting his music as a form of social currency; making it spread through word of mouth by people who like it and want others to hear it rather than large promotional campaigns.
“Once we get to that place where we are making the best possible music, the music is going to spread,” Jahosh says.
What allows Aminé’s “Odyssey To Me” to travel further than the typical nineteen-year-old’s first album are the dreams he refuses to ignore. These dreams impact his writing as much as Damien Marley’s thick accent. By acknowledging his subconscious, the young rapper taps into significant memories, noteworthy truths and vivid illustrations of a future to come.
Aminé is currently working on a video for “Emotional Relief.” He and his production team will be re-releasing “Odyssey To Me” with two bonus tracks via Datpiff.com during the week of March 10th-16th. Aminé will be performing this week at SXSW. Check him out at The Lodge, 411 E. 6th St, Austin, TX on March 13th.