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Photo of the billboard on MLK Jr. Blvd via Aminé’s Twitter account.

In November of 2018, pictures of a billboard began appearing on people’s Snapchat stories with the face of Aminé plastered on it. In late December, many people’s Instagram accounts were featuring posts about a concert called Glitterpop, it was an Aminé concert. After these two major events that were only happening here, it became apparent that Aminé has an enduring connection with the city of Portland as he’s promoting both social change, playing small venues for few people and showcasing Portland on his Instagram and in music videos.

Aminé, born Adam Aminé Daniel, grew up in Northeast Portland with the dream of becoming a basketball star. He attended Benson Polytechnic High School in the Lloyd District. Once he was cut from Benson’s basketball team, he became more interested and invested in music. He then helped to run Benson’s student-run radio station and used the facilities to record diss tracks towards other local high schools like Grant High School’s basketball team, which made his friends laugh but also sparked his passion for music.

Aminé would spend summers in New York City, doing interning with the hip-hop brand Complex and other media companies, meeting people and trying to get signed to a label to start making music professionally. When he told his parents about his vision centered around his passion for music and creativity, they urged him to do something else as they wanted more stability for him. He figured that even if music didn’t work out he would still do something creative. As a back-up option, Aminé attended Portland State University, studying marketing while simultaneously practicing music. Once his viral song, “Caroline” came out, his career skyrocketed. He signed with Republic Records, and has been successful since then coming out with more music and going on tours like his current tour, ONEPOINTFIVE, taking him on a worldwide expedition.

Aminé is considered politically outspoken and a somewhat controversial musician. During his first TV appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Aminé performed a slowed down version of his song “Caroline,” adding in a verse about President Trump and the negativity that he’s brought to Americans. Aminé also put up a billboard on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard outside of the Lloyd district of Portland which reads, “Yes, there are black people in Portland” with a photo of his face. Aminé said during an interview with The New York Times, he “put this billboard right in the middle of [his] city for all of [his] incarcerated friends and those affected by gentrification.” During his music video for his song “Redmercedes,” Aminé decided that the video would have racial roles reversed. African American people were the employees at a car dealership and were concerned when three white men walked in wanting to buy a car. What some viewers of the video may have not been able to see was the white men were played by Aminé and his friends in makeup. All of these events have sparked controversy. When interviewed by The Los Angeles Times about the music video for “Redmercedes,” Aminé said, “I pissed a lot of people off and made a lot of people happy with that video so it’s funny.” He doesn’t want to be considered a political artist, but he will continue to say what needs to be said as well as continuing to make music, play more shows and come back to Portland when he has time.

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