The record falls off during its latter half as the melodic R&B cuts begin to blend together.

By Eli Enis
August 07, 2020 at 04:00 PM EDT
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It’s easy to see why Aminé titled his sophomore album Limbo. On it, the Portland rapper drifts noncommittally between several styles of contemporary hip-hop and R&B, resulting in a record that sounds at once in-line with the pop-rap zeitgeist and also slightly ajar from it. Within the first six tracks he adopts a Roddy Ricch flow (“Woodlawn”), invokes the punctuated gravitas of DAMN.-era Kendrick (“Roots”), pulls out a snarling Drake impersonation (the boom-bappy “Shimmy”), and employs a competent yet boring A Boogie sing-rap flow (the murky “Can’t Decide”).

He proves he can hang with Thugger on the sweltering pop-trap cut “Compensating,” which feels more like an actual collaboration than a phoned-in feature placement. And on the drill-esque “Pressure In My Palms,” he boldly takes on Vince Staples and Slowthai head-to-head by rapping circles around both of them. But the record falls off during its latter half as the melodic R&B cuts begin to blend together. And in lieu of a clear-cut concept, the random spoken-word tidbits that appear throughout the tracklist feel frivolous compared to how Blood Orange and Frank Ocean used them on their last albums. Aminé is a dexterous rapper who sounds natural on nearly any type of beat, but Limbo’s highlights arrive when he exits that liminal space and hones in on one sound in particular. C+

This review appears in the September issue of Entertainment Weekly, out Aug. 28. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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