Kaytranada and Aminé Are a Match Made in Heaven on Debut as KAYTRAMINÉ

BY Wesley McLeanPublished May 18, 2023

After collaborating on nearly a third of Aminé's sophomore mixtape Calling Brio — producing the project's biggest songs — Kaytranada has been largely absent from the Portland rapper's camp. That changes with KAYTRAMINÉ, which brings Aminé together with the producer extraordinaire for a long-awaited joint album of the same name. 

The perfect marriage of Aminé's incredibly fluid flow and Kaytranada's bouncy, house-infused beats, KAYTRAMINÉ finds the pair attempting to recapture the chemistry and synergy they displayed early in their careers — for the most part, they do so successfully. 

Aminé is built for Kaytra's signature style. He boisterously bounces from bar to bar with a buttery smooth cadence that feels perfectly catered to any style or tempo, completely enveloping his voice in the beat. He's a dynamic, charismatic and genuinely hilarious presence on the mic, with verses that ooze confidence and braggadocio and are rife with pop culture references and metaphors that make for standout lines on almost every track.

From the outset, he flexes these strengths, setting the tone on the album's declarative intro "Who He Iz"; weaving his words together with almost effortless ease, Aminé finds himself right at home over an infectious Kaytranada instrumental reminiscent of Busta Rhymes' "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See." Striking a perfect balance between humorous and braggadocious (Aminé opens his second verse proclaiming to be the "only man who can show you where the clit is"), "Who He Iz" is an excellent opener and one of the biggest standout moments on the record.

Another instance where Kaytranada wears a relatively uncharacteristic but apparent influence on his sleeve is the excellent "Westside." The instrumental on this one feels like a modern answer to what RZA was bringing to Wu-Tang Forever, with a very dominant sample of a string section laid over a chilling piano loop. Aminé uses this track to showcase just how sharp he can be, playing keep-up with the track's percussive elements while dishing out some of his best bars on the whole project.

The following track, the Big Sean-assisted "Master P," is KAYTRAMINÉ's biggest standout. Instrumentally, this is Kaytranada's best work on the entire album — lush, layered and full of nuanced and consistent beat switches, the song feels like it's constantly evolving and improving. To top that off, Big Sean delivers a sensational, show-stealing performance, as he flows over the building instrumental with a growing fervency, as he and the beat both reach their peak simultaneously. 

All of these songs appear early in the tracklist, leaving the album feeling slightly front-loaded, which is unfortunate given how short KAYTRAMINÉ is. There are some incredible moments in the back half of the album, namely "Ugh Ugh" and the two-part closer "K&A"; however, "STFU3" and the Amaarae-assisted "Sossaup" run back-to-back after the excellent "Rebuke" and take away some of the steam the album's built up to that point. It's not that these are bad songs, they just both feel slightly out of place within the context of the record, or at least with how the tracklist progresses to that point.

Regardless of any minor hiccups, KAYTRAMINÉ is as solid a debut for a newly founded duo as any. For the most part, the pair manage to recapture the magic of those early mixtape moments while showcasing how much sharper they've both gotten since. It's a short, sweet, summer-ready record, released at the perfect time. While it's not clear whether this is a one-off project or if the pair plan on continuing to collaborate, they've proven that despite a lengthy hiatus, their artistic chemistry is undeniable.

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