Kaytranada and Aminé’s new album—aptly titled after their new duo moniker, Kaytraminé—is here. Although it was officially announced on April 4, this album is, according to Portland’s Aminé, “9 years in the making.” Still, it’s right on time.
These two are no strangers. Their previous collaborations can be heard on 2015’s “La danse,” 2016’s “YeYe,” and more. Earlier this week, Aminé took to Twitter to express gratitude for the early co-sign from the special Haitian-born, Quebec-raised DJ and producer. In the series of tweets, the rapper said he was close to giving up before his first exchange with Kaytranada over eight years ago. “who tf know where i’d be right now without that little push from kay,” he wrote. “the love you show people sometimes can really affect them in ways you couldn’t imagine. kaytraminé ain’t no industry play.”
Did the two sustain a dynamic strong enough to carry a full project to the top of summer charts and playlists? Below, Complex Music team staff members unpack their initial thoughts on the 11-track project on the day of its release.
Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo: It’s a three-way tie between the excellent album-opener “Who He Iz,” the sultry, Amaarae-assisted track “Sossaup,” and obvious standout of a single “4EVA” with Pharrell. But, honestly, considering K and A are both LA-based artists who get the party scene here, setting the tone for this function-bound project with a sample of Diddy saying, “I’m not with none of that standing around looking cool and shit/I want y’all motherfuckers to jump the fuck up” thrills the New Yorker in me. A necessary call to action in the City of Angels on what is bound to be a summer-anthem-to-be. Aminé’s effortless ride through the rest of “Who He Iz” will leave many unknowing folks digging into just that. A delightfully unserious start to a seriously good album.
Eric Skelton: “Letstalkaboutit” has everything I want from an Aminé and Kaytranada collab: summery production, funny one-liners (“I wanna have our accountants have a Verzuz”), and catchy melodies. The surprising Freddie Gibbs appearance is a cherry on top. I couldn’t ask for more. 10/10.
Jessica McKinney: “Who He Iz” is my favorite track on the album. It’s the perfect opener. It begins with a spicy sample of Diddy before breaking into a booming beat. The interpolation of Diddy’s “Real Niggas” hit with Lil’ Kim and The Notorious B.I.G. definitely brings some familiarity to the record, but it still sounds like it is a current hit for 2023. This feels like a contender for song of the summer. Just give it a few weeks.
Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo: If I had to pick one, it’d be “UGH UGH;” clocking in at 4 minutes and 10 seconds, it’s the longest track on the project and I blame my skittish brain for getting the urge to skip halfway through. The unfortunate thing is that when and if the listener does so, they miss the truly immaculate lines that are: “Kaytraminé made a slap, called it Will Smith” or “Take the top off, now her top off, getting topped up in the whip.”
Eric Skelton: “STFU3.” It feels like the kind of song that’ll grow on me, but on first listen, the off-kilter energy threw me off and it felt like something that didn’t quite make the cut for the White Lotus soundtrack.
Jessica McKinney: No skips. I know that sounds too good to be true, but I can really float through this project without feeling the urge to bounce around the tracklist.
Best thing about the album?
Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo: The best thing about this album is that it’s coming from two artists who know their strengths and lean into them heavy; K’s sexy, smooth production over Aminé’s gentle yet hard-hitting bars are a perfect match.
Eric Skelton: The chemistry between Aminé and Kaytranada. Collab albums can be awkward, but it’s obvious these guys felt comfortable to take risks and try weird shit together. In 2021, Aminé told me about his real-life friendship with Kaytranada (they throw parties and have dinners together) and Kaytraminé feels like an album made by two friends whose main goal was to make fun music they could play at their own parties. It’s loose and carefree in a really refreshing way.
Jessica McKinney: Aminé and Kaytranada are the perfect puzzle pieces. They fit together perfectly. Aminé’s slick and laid-back flows over Kaytra’s hypnotic production sounds so effortless. I also love that this sounds like a summer album.
Worst thing about the album?
Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo: I’m hungry for fun visuals for this one. Hopefully that’ll be part of its extended rollout in weeks to come.
Eric Skelton: I don’t have many complaints about Kaytraminé, but if I have to nitpick, the energy dipped in the second half and lost my attention a little (besides “K&A”), compared to the strong first half of the tracklist. But at just 11 songs, it’s still a tight project, and I’ll have no problem playing it front to back without skips.
Jessica McKinney: No blatant fouls off the first few listens.
Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo: Hmm, Snoop Dogg’s feature? Wasn’t expecting it but it’s a nice moment. “Kaytranada, I ain’t really plan on this/I stand on this, ten toes in the dirt/Half a century”; soft flex on all fronts.
Eric Skelton: I’m a little surprised by how chill it is. Considering Aminé and Kaytranada’s history (and the marketing around the album) I was expecting an album for summer dance parties, full of high-energy songs. There’s a little of that, but in reality, this feels more like an album made for backyard summer BBQs. It’s a little more laid-back than I expected, but I’m not mad about it. They pulled it off.
Jessica McKinney: Of course, I know Aminé is a rapper, I have admittedly overlooked him when we have conversations about the new generation in rap. I think of his music as more of a vibe with rapping on the side. Maybe “surprising” isn’t the correct adjective, but it was nice to be reminded of Aminé’s skill on songs like “Westside” and “K&A.” I was also impressed by Amaarae. I’ve been hearing things about her for a little bit, but I haven’t given her a proper chance. I think it’s time I change that.
Final thoughts/overall first impressions?
Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo: No further notes, just vibes.
Eric Skelton: This is how you make a pop-leaning rap album. Kaytranada and Aminé made a fun, accessible, summer-ready album without making concessions or veering into corny territory, which is more difficult than you might think. I hope they get a good response from this so they make more. It’s rare to find a rapper-producer duo that clicks this well.
Jessica McKinney: I had high expectations coming into this album rollout. Especially after seeing the creative album cover, I was hopeful that it would be just as good as I wanted it to be. I’m happy to say that it did meet my expectations. It’s a fun album led by energetic production and dope raps. Kaytranada and Aminé have established themselves as a power duo. The search for song of the summer is still underway, but I think there are at least two contenders in the running from this album. It will be interesting to see how this album lives in a public setting.