Aminé & KAYTRANADA
4 out of 5 stars
Videos by American Songwriter
On May 16, three days before his new collaborative album with KAYTRANADA was set to release, Aminé told a story to his Twitter followers about his life as an up-and-comer in 2014.
Three days after putting out his SoundCloud track “Not At All” on July 24, 2014, which samples KAY’s 2013 single “At All,” the rapper and producer shared a direct message conversation which led to KAY sending Aminé a pack of beats to use. Aminé would subsequently rap over three of these instrumentals for his 2015 SoundCloud-exclusive mixtape Calling Brío, which the Portland emcee felt was a career-altering moment.
“who tf know where i’d be right now without that little push from kay that early in my career,” Aminé tweeted.
Now, eight years removed this interaction, and eight years between collaborations, the duo reconnected for a full-circle moment on KAYTRAMINÉ, which feels like one of the most necessary, anthem-filled summer releases in recent hip-hop memory.
Although the new arrival is Aminé’s first full-length project since late-2021 mixtape TWOPOINTFIVE, the LP is KAYTRANADA’s second time in the last 13 months fully producing an album for a rapper (see IDK’s Simple from April 2022). However, where Simple saw IDK lean more towards KAY’s patented club sound, KAYTRAMINÉ sees KAY instead embrace his hip-hop influences, and provide the most rap production we’ve ever heard from the 30-year-old.
Impressing as always, with no need to shake off any rust, Aminé’s light-hearted, yet sharp and playful, earnest bars are able to flow over multiple different sub-genres of beats his instrumentalist provides. Whether it be the Diddy and Jermaine Dupri samples on “Who He Iz” and “letstalkaboutit,” snap-clap themes on “Master P” and “Rebuke,” trademark dance drums on “sossaup” and “Eye,” or the soul-sample filled outro “K&A,” KAYTRANADA demonstrates an unmatched versatility all over the project, while still assuring every song can be played at a sunny pool party.
While involving his whimsical, yet typical celebrity allusions like Seth Rogen, Stacey Dash, Anderson .Paak, Kourtney Kardashian, and Will Smith, not a single Aminé verse on KAYTRAMINÉ falls flat. The same can be said for his feature guests, Freddie Gibbs, Pharrell Williams, Big Sean, Amaarae, and Snoop Dogg, who all not only fulfill the atmosphere of their song’s beat but deliver verses that coincide with Aminé’s mostly spirited approach.
Y’all boys ain’t shit, and ain’t shit you can tell us
Can’t beef with n****s that’s not in my tax bracket
All you n****s bums, stop sniffin’ that Cate Blanchett
Talkin’ like they gon’ pop, but they still local
Big Sean on “Master P”
All in all, KAYTRAMINÉ lives up to every claim about it that Aminé asserts in his verses, whether that be KAYTRAMINÉ in this bitch, smokin’ on your album (“Who He Iz”), Kaytra and Aminé, we the summer (“Westside”), or K sent me free beats back in 2015 / Now it’s 2023 and we got racks in our jeans (“Ugh Ugh”).
Photo by Lucas Creighton / Courtesy Orienteer PR