Thursday, September 9, 2021
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Album review: Aminé’s “Limbo”

In his third and most recent album, “Limbo,” Portland rapper Aminé dives into his serious side while still maintaining the fun atmosphere his fans know and love. 

He addresses weighty topics and includes collaborations that keep you hooked for the entire album, and if you’re like me, they will keep you listening to it for days on end. 

This album takes a deeper dive into the artist’s life, deeper than he has gone before within his music. He addresses the subjects of mental health, adjusting to being an adult, tough relationships, appreciation for his mother, dealing with loss and its results and issues with interracial couples that still occur today. 

In previous albums, Aminé included commentary in most of his songs, giving even the more grave topics a bit of comedic relief, almost downplaying them. For “Limbo,” he includes very little commentary within the tracks, and the commentary he does include is often serious. 

Aminé talked about many aspects of the album with Rob Markman from Genius a few days after he released the record. When discussing the name of the album, he stated, “‘Limbo’ represented where I was at in my life.” 

In the album, Aminé never mentions the word “Limbo.” Rather, within the songs he describes how he is like many people his age: lost, stuck in a space between knowing what he’s doing with his life and endlessly searching. He is trying to figure out how to be an adult, working out how to manage both his personal life and his music.  

“Burden” (Track 1)

The chorus of the first song on the album sets the serious tone, stating, “Bury me before I’m a burden, don’t bury me until [explicit] is certain.” In his interview with Genius, Aminé described this line as his motivation to work hard every day, especially in his music career. 

On “Burden,” Aminé gives a description of what he wants his funeral to be like when he dies. He takes this very serious topic of death and describes it as a celebration, envisioning scenes of yellow, bright skies and light-toned music. 

“Kobe” (Track 3)

The song is an early interlude within the album. It feels like Aminé is having a conversation about how the January 2020 death of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant seriously affected him.

“It weirdly, like, fast forwarded my maturity,” he explains, “It weirdly was one of those things where he died and a lot of my innocence and being a young person died with him.” In his later songs, Aminé raps about how he saw the late basketball player as a father figure, so his death affected him heavily, like the death of a relative. For the rest of this song, Aminé explains that he felt the need to act more like an adult after the death of Kobe Bryant. 

“Roots” (Track 4)

This song is different from the Aminé tracks I’ve been listening to for the last few years. It’s a collaboration with two other artists, including Charlie Wilson, an infamous R&B artist that I grew up listening to. Typically, I would not classify Charlie Wilson and Aminé as being within the same genre of music, but this collaboration worked well with Wilson’s smooth, soulful voice and Aminé’s lighthearted rap verses. “Roots” includes numerous metaphors in which Aminé relates himself and his growing process to that of a succulent. 

“Easy” (Track 10)

This was one of my favorite songs from the album, partially because of the message behind the lyrics and partially for the love I have for Summer Walker, the R&B artist featured on “Easy.” 

In the chorus, Aminé and Summer Walker sing together, “’Cause love don’t come easy… times get hard but nothing’s easy.”

My takeaway from this song was to understand that love is hard to find and maintain all the time; life can sometimes get the best of us, and stop us from giving what we should in a relationship. But still, it’s important to keep your head up and put in effort when you can.

The song finishes with a series of commands to show the love and appreciation you have for the people you have in your life. Aminé says, “Tell your man you trust him. Tell your girl you love her. Tell your dad you miss him…” After I first listened to this song, I immediately texted my dad, boyfriend, closest friends and little sister to express my gratitude and appreciation. This was truly a great song all around. 

“Mama” (Track 11)

“Mama” is one of the most wholesome rap songs I’ve heard in a long time. Aminé wrote the song for the days his mom was not able to see or talk to him, so that she could understand the sheer amount of gratitude and love he has for her. He thanks her for things she has been doing for him since he was a teenager, things many parents do without asking for recognition. 

I love the fact that Aminé didn’t feel the need to save face with this piece, since lately most rap songs typically talk about money, sex, drugs and violence. “Mama” was a great change of pace. This is a song I listen to whenever I need a pick-me-up from the constant dreariness of the world.

“Becky” (Track 12)

Just the title of this song speaks volumes, as the name “Becky” is a stereotypical name for a white woman. The song addresses how Aminé’s parents don’t want him bringing home a white woman as his partner, but also points out the issues that often occur with interracial couples in society, such as stares and whispers from not only strangers, but close friends and family. 

 Aminé begins the song, “Mama said ‘Don’t ever bring the white girl home to me.’ Papa said ‘[Explicit] catching cases every week.” These lyrics seem less of a prejudice against white women and more of an expression of fear for Aminé’s safety, as someone might get the wrong idea. Due to the state of our society, Aminé would likely receive the blame in any situation, regardless of reason or explanation. 

“My Reality” (Track 14)

Aminé finishes the album with “My Reality,” a rap-heavy song that compares how his life used to be, especially before his music career kicked off, to how his life is now, as well as his realizations of adulthood. 

Within the song, he states, “We all dream, but to live this way.” He chose this song as a finishing touch to “Limbo.” This particular line shows that he got lucky: he’s living his dream, even when he doesn’t feel like he knows what he is doing in his reality. 

He continues to dream and reach for that dream as he floats in his personal “Limbo.”

cnpzxf@mail.umkc.edu

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