Review by Emily Smith
Artists that bring in elements from their culture, whether it is the sound of the music from a particular place or even different languages, are able to create work that stands out among the rest with its diverse influences and distinct personal sound. Prince Amine, a hip-hop artist from Montreal, draws heavily from his background to create the fun and danceable sound on his latest album Hram Vybez.
The album keeps up a lively sound throughout its entirety. The beats on this album are very fun and bouncy, especially on tracks like “P.M.N. (Princess of My Nation),” which is especially uppity and serves as a nice introduction to the album, and “Marokina” which immediately draws the listener in.
Hram Vybez also has a notably atmospheric vibe among its beats, which bring out the intensity that Prince Amine wants to convey through some of the tracks without compromising the overall liveliness and colorfulness of the songs. This is especially apparent on the track “Hold On,” especially during the chorus as Prince Amine repeatedly sings, “Hold onto me.” The track may be a bit spacey, but still manages to be somewhat grounded, making the listener really pay attention.
The different tracks complement each other well as the listener moves through the album, though there are a few standout moments. The track “Por La Vida,” for instance, begins with a guitar, as does the track “Newlywed,” and some synths that sound like they came straight out of the ‘80s. The guitar in “Por La Vida” is distinctly Spanish-inspired, and with that, the track contains many lyrics in Spanish.
The use of Spanish lyrics is not limited to “Por La Vida,” as many other tracks have lyrics in Spanish and French alongside English. Tracks like “P.M.N. (Princess of My Nation)” also feature a ton of Spanish while “Marokina” overwhelmingly features French. “Hram Vybez” mainly features French and one or two words in Spanish, while “Fuego” features some French (yet there is no Spanish despite the title being Spanish for “fire”). This relates to Prince Amine’s background, as he knows English, Spanish, French, and Arabic. Using different languages in these songs adds a somewhat personal touch to them.
Using these different languages draws the listener’s attention more to the musicality of the words than their actual lyrics (if the listener only speaks English, that is), thus diversifying the sound in a way that cannot be accomplished by only singing in one language.
Even when using English, Prince Amine manages to use the voice in particularly clever ways. He does this in two senses. First, his lyrics are especially attention-grabbing, as he finds many different ways to express his feelings of desire, which is a prominent theme throughout the whole album. In “P.M.N. (Princess of My Nation),” he mainly uses themes of royalty to describe the relationship he has with this girl. As suggested in the title, he refers to her as his princess and himself as a prince. He also compares their relationship to an empire, and confidently declares, “They won’t see us crumble.” Prince Amine also utilizes repetition to his advantage as yet another way of adding to the musicality of his lyrics. In the track “Marokina,” he repeats several words ending with the –ing sound. He sings, “And she loves it when I sing, sing, sing/ And now my wife you’ve got that ring, ring, ring,” which draws attention to how the words sound and rhyme together.
Much of the instrumentation and beats also give the songs on this album a unique flare by drawing upon the musical stylings of different cultures and backgrounds. He especially utilizes different styles of percussion in certain songs. For example, the track “Marokina” features some bongos in the middle of the song. Meanwhile “Fuego” features some Caribbean-inspired percussion that is intertwined with the rest of the synths in the song. This both references the Caribbean influence while also adding a modern twist to the overall sound.
Drawing on the sounds of different cultures and featuring three languages, Hram Vybez is definitely a fun, vivacious album with a myriad of influences.
Follow Prince Amine