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Ethiopian American Hip Hop Artist Aminé Slams Trump

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A YOUNG RAPPER’S BOLD ANTI-TRUMP MESSAGE ON “THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON

‘You can never make America great again, all you ever did was make this country hate again’ 

Among this year’s uncommonly vibrant cohort of breakout rappers, Aminé, a wild-haired twenty-two-year-old from Portland, Oregon, stands out for his warm, restless energy. His single “Caroline”—which has been slowly gaining momentum since its release, in March—finds a sweet spot between theatre-geek sincerity and cool-kid braggadocio, between neo-soul and ringtone rap, between romance and vulgarity. Melodically simple and texturally adventurous, it’s a near-perfect dollop of populist rap joy—the kind of song that cuts across listening audiences, for better or worse. The song has racked up some hundred and fifty million streams in recent months and reached No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week.

So Aminé’s television début, on Tuesday night, on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” seemed like a straightforward proposition: a promising young artist performs his best single, and, if all goes according to plan, endears himself to a mainstream late-night viewing audience. What actually happened was slightly different. When Aminé took the stage, he initially played the part of the whimsical Portland rapper, tinkering on a piano adorned with bananas, one of his signature motifs. He then offered a stripped-down rendition of “Caroline,” accompanied by an orchestra and a row of backup singers. But when he arrived at the song’s final chorus the room shifted. The camera focussed on Aminé’s face, and he stood still in front of the microphone. The wands of light behind him turned from a dusty yellow to red, white, and blue, as over the beat of “Caroline” he delivered a piercing new verse:

9/11, a day that we never forgettin’

11/9, a day that we always regrettin’

If my President is Trump then it’s relevant enough

To talk ’bout it on TV and not give a fuck

I’m black and I’m proud

My skin is brown and I’m loud

Everybody love it when a rapper tells some lies

But that ain’t me, homie, I guess that’s a surprise

America want to act all happy and holy

But deep down inside they like Brad and Jolie

Caroline divine, and I won’t get specific

Club Banana, the illest and it’s too terrific

You can never make America great again

All you ever did was make this country hate again