In a first for him, Portland rapper Aminé takes stage at Oregon Symphony

By Gemma DiCarlo (OPB)
Nov. 6, 2022 1 p.m.
A man in a bucket hat and sweater stands with arms folded.

Provided photo of Aminé. The Portland-born hip-hop artist will make his orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Lucas Creighton

Since releasing the hit 2016 single “Caroline,” Portland-born rapper Aminé has performed at Coachella, made political waves on “The Tonight Show,” earned a Grammy nomination and toured internationally.


But he’s never performed at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

“I’ve done almost every venue in Portland,” he said. “I’ve done 20-people shows where no one ever showed up at the Hawthorne, I’ve done so many café 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 on Wednesday. It’s an opportunity he described as both “nerve-wracking” and “a dream come true.”

Though he’s been practicing with a recorded version of the symphony’s track, Aminé said he won’t actually get to rehearse with the orchestra in person until the day of the performance.

Composer Tim Davies worked with Aminé to translate the trademark synth-pop sound of tracks like “Charmander” into new, orchestral arrangements.


“We get to kind of shy away from the exact sound of the MP3s of the songs that you’re used to,” Aminé said. “Which is exciting, people are going to get to hear this one-and-only night of a performance.”

Though the rapper now lives in Los Angeles, he said it’s important to him to represent Portland in his music videos and on tour.

“It was a little tough for me growing up there, getting to see Portland represented in sports or in 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 for 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 the artist’s own “quarter-life crisis.”

By comparison, his most recent project “TWOPOINTFIVE” is significantly brighter — critics have compared the “EP/LP/album/mixtape” to a “controlled sugar rush.”

“[It’s] just wild expression for me as an artist where there’s no rules,” Aminé said. “It kind of 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 typically known for the dancing and moshing seen at many hip-hop shows.

“My goal is to make it so good where people are just going to want to stand up. They have no choice,” Aminé said. “Hopefully we make them do that, and hopefully we get a couple claps in there.”

Aminé spoke to “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller. Click play to listen to the full conversation: