Review: Amine – Limbo

Rapper Amine has made quite a name for himself the last few years, even if the stage name would easily get confused with ‘Anime’ (he even knows it as well). He made a big splash with the single “Caroline”, becoming a commercial hit for him in 2016, and the following year he was named as a member of the XXL Freshman Class in 2017 with the release of his debut album, Good For You.

Following that would be the mixtape OnePointFive in 2018, and later on, he released a couple of singles following the announcement of his sophomore album Limbo.  Now my opinion of Amine is that while he’s a decent rapper, he’s not exactly one whose records I go back to, but at the same time he’s not horrible at what he does. Good for You is a decent pop rap record that does its job alright, but in a year full of better hip-hop records, it didn’t leave much of an impact. To be honest, on the singles he’s released prior to this new album… they were pretty middle of the road as well. “Riri” and “Compensating” are average at best, but I was interested in some of the features in this album like Vince Staples, Slowthai and Injury Reserve.

So, is Limbo leap bending backwards over?

I have to say that it’s an improvement over Good For You, and it got its shining moments in spots thanks to the production, features and content. “Burden” starts out the album with this wailing sample in the chorus that sounds very familiar. The sample is from a Darondo track titled, “Thank You God,” and the reason for that familiarity is because it was sampled before on Westside Gunn and Anderson. Paak’s track “Wrestlemania 20” on Supreme Blientele, but the sample is used well within here. Plus, there were good sets of bars like:

Shit is legal, now the dealers know the jig is up
When it’s us, niggas gettin’ years, maybe ten and up
Soccer moms do the same, but government don’t give a fuck (True)

And to top it off, my best friend had a baby (Woo)
We twenty-five, I told that nigga, “Boy, you fuckin’ crazy”
Maybe I’m the one who really need the Lord to save me
The last time I went to church was in the fuckin’ ’80s
Can you believe that?
I was born in ’94 (Woo), can you believe that?

We also get “Roots”, a song that carries many definitions from plants to his heritage, being a child of Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants. The song also gets some help on the chorus with Amine and Charlie Wilson delivering his signature soulful vocals on here, and JID provides a verse going on about focusing on his craft as an MC rather than focus on trendy beats and rappers doing their thing.

He gets braggadocios with “Shimmy”, a single that was released very prior to the album, and this is him being as braggy and flexing as ever, and it actually works in his favor, plus him interpolating “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by the late ‘Ol Dirty Bastard does earn some cool points from me. The same goes to “Pressure on My Palms” as Amine goes hard on this beat, with the first half being very bass and grit heavy while the second half is more breezy and laid back.

This is Britney Spears when she was bald, nigga (Yeah)
Punkin’ niggas way before there was Punk’d, nigga (True)
Smokin’ Ashton Kush so I calm down, nigga (Yeah)

We don’t wanna hear your mixtape, my nigga
I fade niggas like barbers (Oh)
I got more pressure in my palms than Arthur (Oh, oh)
Man, this like when Fergie peed her pants
That’s when Honey used to dance
Matt Barnes verse Derek Fisher, caught you niggas in a (Uh)
I hate when niggas don’t finish they fuckin’ sentences (Yeah)
If Steve Harvey say my name wrong, I’ll catch a sentencin’ (oh)
Malice at the Palace or Winona up in Saks Fifth
This is Metta World Peace before the peace came, bitch (Oh, oh)

I’ll say that if you’re expecting a lot of Slowthai and Vince Staples, you’ll be disappointed as they both share a verse and it’s not that long. However, this track is still pretty dope as Amine shows a lot of improvement on here. If I had to say which tracks were the most underwhelming to me, it’s the relationship songs.

I mentioned beforehand that the lead-in singles were pretty meh to me, although I did kind of enjoy “Compensating” the few times I heard it again (plus, Young Thug mentioning Daffy Duck in his verse was funny). “Can’t Decide” and “Easy” with Summer Walker were also very average to me, with the latter having not so good singing from both performers, although I’ll give “Becky” this: the song does touch on interracial relationships and how your family and friends look at you differently being around another person outside your race.

Oh and “Mama” is a good track, too. Gotta have love for your mama once you come up in the game.

Now I mentioned most of the tracks here except a few because these are ones that do carry a theme to each other. “Woodlawn” has Amine dedicating it to one of his friends who got incarcerated, has the story of his own come-up, and of course, RIP Kobe Bryant. In fact, following that song is a “Kobe” interlude, a brief monologue from Jak Knight talking about how the death of the famous basketball player affected him. Then there’s “Fetus,” which is both my favorite track on here and in hindsight, the saddest track on here.

The topic is all about becoming a parent way too early and wondering what you’re going to do, especially if you do eventually get a daughter or son, worrying about whether or not they’ll be in a financially stable position. The production is very somber and mellow courtesy of Parker Corey of Injury Reserve and since I mentioned them, this verse from Stepa J. Groggs.

She said she might’ve missed her period
But my mind is somewhere else and I’m in sixth period
You know, seventeen and delirious
Thinkin’ we independent on that scared of our parents shit

See plan B really gotta be Plan B
Shit, maybe C, D, E, this is my damn seed, yeah
We paid cash, rip up the damn receipt
‘Cause mama got my account, that shit she can’t see

Either time’s flyin’ or my mind is playin’ tricks
Can’t believe my baby girl’s already turnin’ six
Pray you nothin’ like your daddy, stay away from drugs
Hope I can be half the father that my mama was
Yeah, hope I can be half the father that the Mamba was

Yes, this is more somber in hindsight given that the rapper passed away on June 29th, 2020, and thinking about those set of lyrics made the song very heavy on the heart. Finally, the album ends with “My Reality”, a track about living out your dreams, finding peace and looking into the future to see what’s on the horizon.

I have to say this album did give me more than what I was expecting. While I wasn’t on board with most of the relationship tracks, everything else just floored me on how much Amine improved from his debut with a broader beat selection, interesting content, good use of features, and it makes for a solid follow-up.

FINAL VERDICT: STREAM IT. While not exactly a back-bending experience, this is still a solid record.


Limbo is on CLBN/Republic Records and is available on CD, digital download, vinyl and streaming services.

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