Since the release of the 2016 hit single “carolina“, Aminé, rapper born in Portland, performed at Coachella, made political waves on “The Tonight Show”, earned a Grammy nomination and toured internationally.
But he never performed at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
“I’ve done almost every site in Portland,” he said. “I’ve done 20-person shows where nobody ever showed up at the Hawthorne, I’ve done so many coffeehouse shows – I’ve done almost every venue except the Schnitz, so it’s really exciting for me.”
Aminé will make his orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday. It’s an opportunity he described as both “agonizing” and “a dream come true”.
Although he practiced with a recorded version of the piece from the symphony, Aminé said he would not rehearse with the orchestra in person until the day of the performance.
Composer Tim Davies worked with Aminé to translate the signature synth-pop sound of tracks like “Charmanderin new orchestral arrangements.
“We’re getting a little scared of the exact MP3 sound of the songs you’re used to,” Aminé said. “Which is exciting, people are going to be able to hear this one and only night of performance.”
Although the rapper now lives in Los Angeles, he said it was important to him to represent Portland in his music videos and on tour.
“It was kind of hard for me growing up there, seeing Portland represented in sports or other things, but never really in the black community or the African community,” he said. “We’re kind of a community that isn’t really spoken most of the time.”
Aminé’s second studio album, “Limbo”, released in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, touched on the country’s growing racial tensions, the death of Kobe Bryant and that of the artist “quarter life crisis.”
By comparison, his most recent project “TWOPOINTFIVE” is significantly brighter – critics compared the “EP/LP/album/mixtape” to a “controlled sugar rush.”
“[It’s] just a wild expression for me as an artist where there are no rules,” Aminé said. “It kinda makes me feel like a kid making music in his bedroom again.”
It’s an energy he hopes to bring to the concert hall — a venue not usually known for the dancing and moshing seen in many hip-hop shows.
“My goal is to make it so good where people will just want to stand up. They have no choice,” Amin said. “Hopefully we get them to do that, and hopefully we get some applause in there.”
Amin spoke to “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller. Click play to listen to the full conversation: