My Favorite Song is a series where I wax poetic about one of my favorite songs. In honor of a concert I’m excited for, let’s begin with Aminé…
The sounds of the jungle fill your ears. Your skin warms with the rays of the sun. Birds chirp and monkeys call, their songs clouding the air and making it hard to focus.
You find yourself under the canopy of the trees. Skin wet with sweat and mist, you walk through the lush underbelly of the jungle, carefully avoiding the frogs, lizards, and insects under your feet. Heavy air weighing your lungs, you walk forward towards the sounds of water. As you draw closer to the sound, you see her, in the cover of the trees. Your eyes gain clarity with every step, and you stop in your tracks when you see her. She’s been waiting for you.
And then the bass drum hits.
* * * * * * * * *
This is “Summer Feelz”, the 10th and last song from the rapper Aminé’s mixtape, Calling Brio. Brio, Amine’s third mixtape before his first official album release of this year, Good for You, is an glimpse into the mind of a man coming into his own.
Like many people, I got wind of Aminé’s music through the incredibly successful song, “Caroline”.
A few things struck me about this song and video.
- One, this dude and his friends look like a lot of fun. They’re also adorable, and it makes this video very easy on the eyes.
- Two, yellow is an awesome color. One time a middle school teacher told me it was my power color, and since then I’ve been an even bigger fan.
- Three, this song is a lot of fun. It’s fun to rap and fun to sing. I’m a big fan of fun hip hop from the West Coast. Something about being on the West Coast makes a lot of hip hop artists like the Pharcyde, Blackalicious, Souls of Mischief, Kyle, Murs, the Black Eyed Peas, Madlib, Aceyalone, Odd Future, Vince Staples, and Casey Veggies make hip hop that is interesting, fun, and multifaceted. You know what I mean when you hear it.
Being a fan of this, when I heard “Caroline”, I dug deeper. I’ve listened to all three of Aminé’s mixtapes, I have his album, and I’ve even listened to some of his guest tracks. I love his music, but “Summer Feelz” stands out to me.
Calling Brio is a mixtape with an underlying theme of overcoming. Overcoming insecurities, relationships, expectations, and escaping the confines of a world that works against your dreams. Aminé raps about making his family proud, praying to God, and proving himself in hip hop. It’s both braggadocious and ferocious (songs like “Beast” and “Rage/Peace“) while being introspective and vulnerable (songs like “Brightwood” and “Said & Done“). And then there’s “Summer Feelz.”
“Summer Feelz” uses the same intro as the second song in Calling Brio, a sample of jungle sounds ripped from National Geographic (or quite possibly, ripped from the beak of a Kookaburra). For me, these sounds signal something cyclical within the work. “La Danse,” the first song on the mixtape, is fast and frantic. Aminé sings about wanting to run away, escaping the maze of his life. By the second song, “Brightwood,” named after the city in Oregon where the mixtape was recorded, the mood has shifted to something far more weighty. Running away isn’t always possible, and you have to tap into something more powerful. Thus, Calling Brio, with Brio being an Italian word for ‘vigor.’
* * * * * * * *
“Summer Feelz” grounds the album firmly on the Earth. In the song, Aminé raps about a story as old as time, the love that comes and goes with the seasons. But unlike the Stevie Wonders before him and more like the Teena Maries, Aminé’s okay with this. The song is a wonderful example of Aminé’s talent at singing and rapping, giving the song two very different sides. The first half sets the scene,
Is this what summer feelz?
Like when I’m on the go?
Citrus in the air,
Her sundress on the floor
And in the winter,
And the summer too
You just love me
In the worst way
In the winter you’re hating me
In the summer you love to be
My mistress, or my baby
But that’s okay with me
Background vocals fill the song with an ethereal choir. The result is intoxicating. After an instrumental break featuring a guitar riff and the vocals peaking at a crescendo, Aminé returns.
This time the mood, tone, and content are different. The focus is less on love and more on life in general during the summertime. People are hustling, cops are patrolling, relationships are coming and going.
Summer feelz is the worst time ever
Some niggas never make it back and fall for the weather
The girl that you love is probably gone for forever
Foreva-eva? Foreva-eva? Maybe.
The song fades out on a quiet and uncertain note, lyrically and sonically, only to return featuring a familiar refrain, “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts, accompanied by the laugh of a woman, the start of a car, and the sound of a lighter. It’s as if you’ve been awakened from a day dream, brought back to reality. You hear the hook of “Summer Breeze” in the distance, as if being played from a crappy stereo in a diner or from a passing car.
It’s a return to normal. A return back to life. The warmth you felt on your skin slowly dissipates. You wipe your brow instinctively for sweat, but find your face to be dry. You’re alone, your eyes adjusting to the world around you. A woman’s laughter and the sounds of the jungle ringing in your ears like she was so near, but she’s gone. You can still feel the dirt under your feet and the itching of a mosquito bite. The time you spent in a summer so far away wasn’t real.
Or was it?