Listen to Charmander, a hyperpop-leaning burst of experimentation from Aminé
The first single from the US rapper since his Limbo album last year points towards a high-octane, hyper-experimental future ahead.
Header image by Lucas Creighton.
Aminé is someone who has always pushed hip-hop to the limit. His breakthrough debut album - 2017's Good For You - captured the rush of trap rap's explosion and its intersection with woozier R&B, drawing in everyone from Nelly (!) to Kehlani as guest collaborators. Then, came 2018's ONEPOINTFIVE and the album's drive to push Portland hip-hop to its most far-reaching spaces, elevating then-newcomers like Rico Nasty in the process. Don't count out last year's sensational Limbo record either, or the work he's done as a go-to, cross-genre collaborator working alongside everyone from Disclosure to Lykke Li.
Over the last few years, it's become apparent that there's a major ethos linking together all of Aminé's work. He's not one to sit within a singular sound, instead constantly evolving and sonically moving forwards, attempting new genres and nailing it every time. Last year's defining Limbo album seemed to encapsulate that, as a year-end favourite that navigated the twists and turns of rap's sonic umbrella with the aid of slowthai, Vince Staples, Summer Walker, Injury Reserve and more by his side.
His new single Charmander, however, makes every single past instance of Aminé's experimentalism feel like nothing. It's the byproduct of a challenge that Aminé set for himself in the wake of Limbo's arrival, one that encouraged him to embrace sounds he'd never worked with before, in the hopes of taking the Aminé into completely new projects. "After the release of Limbo, I took some time to experiment and challenge myself to create in ways I hadn’t before — exploring different textures and tempos without any expectations," he says.
"Charmander was the first product of that period that felt natural while still being at a completely different BPM than any of my previous work," he continues, in somewhat of an understatement that simmers down how far the rapper actually pushes it with his new single. Charmander is unlike anything else he's ever made, bordering on near-hyperpop territory as Aminé cranks up the tempo of his sound and pushes it to the absolute edge; the end result being this explosive, hard-to-pin-down return that really feels leaps and bounds ahead of what everyone else is making right now.
However, perhaps the most impressive thing about Charmander isn't so much its twisted production as much as it is how the rapper is capable of keeping up with it; Aminé navigating the minefield of the production's upbeat blitz seemingly without breaking a sweat. It's a real testament of Aminé's prowess, and how he's always been capable - and always shown - his ability to verge outside of hip-hop's boundaries, albeit never on a level as far-reaching as Charmander.
Anyway, the single is one hell of a time, and you can check it out below, ahead of more to come throughout the rest of the year and beyond.