By: Iain Burhoe
Looking at Brian Imanuel, you wouldn’t assume that he is a world-renowned rapper. The Indonesian-born artist only began releasing music about two years ago, with his first popular song being “Dat $tick”, a ballad about shooting cops as soon as he sees them. The internet took to the video, saying that his music was a joke.
So he reinvented himself.
At the time, he called himself Rich Chigga, but changed his name in 2018 to a more advertiser-friendly Rich Brian. On February 2nd, Brian released his debut album Amen. The album is now #1 on the iTunes Hip Hop Charts, making Rich Brian the first #1 rapper of Asian descent. Not bad for someone who learned English through the Internet.
Amen has a perfect blend of variety with calm, mellow songs that balance out the upbeat, high-energy party tracks Brian is known for. It’s nice to see the artist tackle topics that would be uncommon for most rappers to base songs about; on Cold, Brian talks about how the world of rap music has changed his outlook on the events around him. On Introvert, he talks about everything that he had to sacrifice to get to this point in his life. On Glow Like That, Brian talks about the breakup that had affected him most. Each track has the benefit of telling one part of Brian’s life up until this point, whether it be about his partying lifestyle, or the first time that he went home with a girl. To be as open as a book without coming off as too stuck-up or brash is very calculated.
The benefit of making your own beats is the fact that you can make whatever sound you want, not one your audiences thinks you should make. Rich Brian makes the transition between songs very fluent and easy to handle. Tracks like Trespass and Chaos are fast-paced, hard-hitting songs that you would want at your next house party, while Arizona and Flight are more low-key and moody. The balance sets the tone of the album perfectly, and with an album as personal as this, it is very fitting of the themes throughout the album.
Rich Brian might not be the most technical rapper, and the history behind his previous name might throw a few people off, but this is an album that should be listened to. The love and care that Rich Brian placed into his album shows just how much he wants to be successful in the new life he has created. From watching YouTube videos to learn English to now having his first successful album at the tender age of 18 is truly remarkable. I implore you to take a listen to the album, and who knows – maybe this will be an album you recommend to your friends.
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