Amine has escaped the sophomore slump with his follow up record Limbo, exceeding expectations with this more introspective, thoughtful album. 2020 might really be his year, which anyone should have seen coming after Shimmy.
The Caroline rapper has always showed potential with standout tracks like Campfire, Reel It In, and Turf, but has mostly followed a safe, pop sound. Amine began to turn heads for us when he took a more edgy, artistic direction by collaborating with alternative Hip Hop group Injury Reserve. Ever since Jailbreak The Tesla, the hype for his next move has been huge.
From the very first track, Amine lays all his thoughts out on the table and delivers a soul-heavy Kanye inspired intro. The intro makes it clear to us that it will be his ‘Black Album – like Shawn Carter’, cleverly wearing his influences on his sleeve.
Limbo features riskier production choices and an unexpected list of features: the Dreamville spitter JID, West Coast rapper Vince Staples, and Britain’s own Slowthai. But despite this new stylistic direction, the album's standout moments come through Amine.
The egotistical trap banger, Woodlawn, is essentially Amine’s ‘Started From The Bottom’ type track, and although the flute sample is quite uninspired and overdone, it’s Amine’s eclectic delivery that makes the track. He has clearly come a long way, as a few years ago he was considered a one hit wonder. Amine is the underdog worth rooting for, and this album gives him bragging rights.
The LP is heavy in nostalgia, with many childhood referencing verses appearing on tracks like Roots (which features ear-worm vocals from legendary singer Charlie Wilson), and a fitting interlude about the impact Kobe’s death has had on his life.
There are definitely some mediocre moments in the track list, like slow jams Can’t Decide and Easy which fail to push the envelope. However, the Portland Rapper makes up for this with the albums lead singles which still haven’t outlived the repeat button…
Shimmy is an east coast inspired homage to ODB, whereas Riri is a snappy breakup song. The real standout though, is Compensating, a bouncy, unforgettable hit with an excellent Wes Anderson themed video (just one piece of this album's great rollout). Amine and Young Thug ride the beat perfectly, despite some questionable one liners from Thugga. (‘I eat a lil cheese like snack baby’ must be the albums best, and most confusing line.)
Despite it’s contagious, heavy beat and sharp features, Amine is the star of Pressure In My Palms, perhaps the track we’ve had on repeat the most - if you harden the pun. It shows Amine branching out in new directions, and borrowing less from his immediate contemporaries, but more from the likes of alternative pop-rap crossovers like Brockhampton, Tyler The Creator, and even Childish Gambino with its 808-heavy Because The Internet era style beat.
The album is top heavy with bangers, but it’s the last four song stretch of Limbo that’s the most poignant. Mama is a 2Pac inspired ode to his upbringing, with a grand piano loop that compliments Amine’s touching verses. Becky, despite online backlash, is a thought provoking track about facing prejudice and struggling with his interracial relationship, Amine is fed up, and you can feel his pain through the lavish production.
Fetus is a hauntingly beautiful moment in the album. The smooth instrumental is produced by Parker Corey, which is immediately obvious as soon as you hear the squeaky experimental drums, and Madlib-esque sample. The recent passing of Injury Reserve’s Groggs makes the song hard to get through. ‘Wish I could be half the father that my mama was’ Groggs raps, which is intensely more heavy hitting given his unfortunate death.
The closing track features a melancholy sample proclaiming ‘my reality is my fantasy’, and stunning, grandiose final moments by Daniel Caesar, bringing this album to a perfect conclusion. This track feels like the curtains closing at the end of a movie, as Amine seems like he’s said all he needs to.
Amine follows a safe formula with this LP, dipping between deep cuts and smooth tracks, but the end result is great, and an improved listen to the promise shown on his debut. He makes the album so listenable with his witty bars and punchlines, and through his relatable verses keeps us all attentive.
The album is never ground breaking, but it proves that Amine is oozing with potential. He has found a near perfect balance of the catchy, pop heavy vibe of Good For You, and the moody trap sound of ONEPOINTFIVE.
Limbo isn’t just a passable follow up record, it’s genuinely great, and we can’t wait to see where he goes from here, if this album is an indicator. Limbo is more self-aware, bittersweet, and personal than his first LP, and it’s much better for it. Amine is comforting, familiar, and sometimes plays it safe, but borrows from all the best aspects of both modern and classic Hip Hop, making Limbo a stand out from this year.