By Avani Jurakhan, Staff Writer
At the start of 2018, Brian Imanuel changed his stage name from Rich Chigga to Rich Brian. The Indonesian rapper had wanted to make this shift since the single that rocketed him to fame had dropped. “Dat $tick”, and its viral music visual, reached the West quickly after being uploaded to YouTube early 2016 for its avant-garde nature and surprising sound. Brian has spoken on the name’s insensitivity and his lack of fondness towards it several times, though this development came at the perfect time. “Amen,” Brian’s highly anticipated debut album, hit platforms February 2nd.
The first track on the album is one of the only weak aspects concerning his project. The quick-tongued song titled “Amen” is sloppy and soft-hitting with boring lyrics, causing the album to take off on a powerless foot. However, he immediately makes up for it in the next tracks. The majority of the rest of album showcase Brian’s range concerning style, flow and lyrics. Unfortunately, the meme rap genre had fully engulfed “Rich Chigga” and his content was regarded with little respect. Amen proves that Brian was aware of this and put effort into letting the world know his art was not something to laugh at.
Tracks Cold, Occupied, Introvert and Flight crack open a beautiful stylistic power never previously seen. With 95% of the production done himself, Brian puts together slow and pretty beats that mix vividly with the more intense topics he brings into his work. Touching on anxiety, loneliness and his devotion to his medium, the format of these tracks do his vulnerability justice. Amen gives the listener exposure to Brian’s childhood, upbringing and modern day relationship with his label 88rising.
“Glow Like Dat” and “Little Prince” peer into Brian’s love life and his romantic tendencies. They demand he be perceived as the human he is. His comedic fame easily skews the fact that he feels the same pressures artists and creators do. His new and exiting production on Attention, Trespass and Chaos encompass the vibrant aesthetic Brian naturally emits. Throughout the album, it is easy to see he is trying extremely hard to learn and get better at his craftsmanship and is simultaneously cognizant of how much room there is to progress.
The track “See Me” is arguably Brian’s best track on the album. The song gives a unique perspective of a non-American adapting to America’s obscure and overwhelming famous youth culture. It is easy to forget Brian is another kid who is tired and, at the core, trying his hardest. There is a tangible fear throughout Amen that is vital to its allure. Brian just became the first Asian artist in history to be #1 on the iTunes hip-hop chart and is touring with other artists from the East, properly integrating his culture and talent into America’s music scene. Regardless of his success, there is a compelling underlying doubt of his longevity and ability to transcend.
Amen is a gorgeous display of what is to come from the hilarious, brilliant and energetic Rich Brian.