For Portland rapper Aminé, things have been looking pretty good – in addition to standout singles like Caroline and REDMERCEDES, he even weaved his way into 2017’s XXL Freshman Class. Somehow, this debut doesn’t live up to the hype. Despite drawing on throwback aesthetics from the early 2000s, Good For You finds itself stuck in the stagnant trends of modern pop rap and R&B, falling through where Aminé’s charm and innovation should have saved it.
Good For You’s biggest strength is it’s freshness – in a hip hop landscape dominated by lush, perhaps overbearing instrumentation, Aminé keeps it minimal and lowkey, more akin to the sound of Missy Elliott or 50 Cent than any of his contemporaries. With Malay, Frank Dukes, Pasqué, and Aminé himself, among others, on production duty, the album is, for the most part, largely cohesive, sticking to a simple palette of groovy synth bass and bouncy percussion. Tight trap drums linger around a lot of these tracks, but there’s an everpresent sense of swing too, especially on tracks like the undeniably catchy Caroline or the short and groovy interlude Blinds.
Aminé rarely has anything groundbreaking to say here, but where his lyrics lack, his charming persona makes up for it. His bars may be predictable at times, but it’s his great flow, humorous turnarounds, and great punchlines that keep up the forward momentum. Especially on slower paced tracks like the dreamy Turf or the very downtempo and psychedelic Sundays, Aminé’s lyricism works well at the forefront of more minimalist sonic backdrops. There’s a lot less rapping here than expected too, and while Aminé’s singing is still impressive, he sounds generic and samey, failing to capture the same energy that he does in his rapped verses.
Luckily, Aminé’s got an all star team of names new and old to pick him back up when he falls over. Nelly works wonders on the bass heavy party anthem Yellow, while Charlie Wilson seizes the spotlight on the effortlessly soulful Dakota. Even Ty Dolla $ign adds a lot to the album’s formidable opener Veggies, providing his trademark lush R&B croons for where they’re needed most. Not every feature here comes through, though – on bonus track (thank god) Heebeejeebies, Kehlani is typical Kehlani, coming together with Aminé for one of the most lifeless duets out there. Even Migos’ Offset fails to deliver on the lackluster pop rap track Wedding Crashers, another in a series of songs like STFU and Money that feel messy and overly clichéd.
Aminé had everything going for him. It’s a shame then, that this project turned out the way it did. For every stellar single and really innovative moment that Good For You has to offer, there’s more boring piano pop rap like Beach Boy or dull tropical hop on Spice Girl or Slide that we’ve heard too many times before. There’s some great ideas here, but they’re dragged down by repetitive hooks and uninteresting songwriting, clouding so much of the good material that this album has to offer. Can Aminé bounce back and become a household name? For sure. Will he? Not if he continues like this.