June 13: Aminé Makes the Cover of XXL Magazine

Only three years ago, hip-hop in Portland was invisible on the national stage, and practically outlawed within the city itself.

What happened: In 2016, Aminé put Portland hip-hop on the map. This year, he put it on a magazine.

In June, the 23-year-old Benson High School grad appeared on the cover of XXL with the rest of the magazine's annual Freshman List spotlighting the top breakout acts of the year.

Given his other achievements—going triple-platinum with the outta-nowhere viral hit single "Caroline," signing to a major record label, performing on The Tonight Show—it probably seems minor.

But making the Freshman List of XXL, a leading hip-hop magazine, is a status symbol in the rap world. In some cases, it's a kingmaker: Past honorees include Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott and Future. It is a source of fervent debate every year. And if you're part of that debate, it means you've arrived.

Why it mattered: As with everything else Aminé has accomplished in his brief career, his cover appearance helped raise the profile of the entire city.

Only three years ago, hip-hop in Portland was invisible on the national stage, and practically outlawed within the city itself. Cops policed rap shows to such a degree it prompted an internal police review. With each milestone Aminé checks off, the notion of a "Portland rapper" seems less of an oxymoron.

The XXL cover wasn't the only highlight of Aminé's year. In July, he released Good for You, his debut studio album on Republic Records. A hit with critics, it made good on the promise of "Caroline," establishing him as a joyful smartass in the mold of a young Kanye West.

Whether his success will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the scene remains uncertain. But for Aminé, that's certainly the plan.

"I definitely want to bring so much light into Portland," he told XXL. "There's a lot of Black culture that's been taken from Portland. There are Black neighborhoods that are getting gentrified right now. If I could gather Black communities in Portland more, that would mean so much."

Next: An amazing—and frightening—breakthrough in DNA research.

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