In early 2016, Rich Brian (and his previous alias Rich Chigga) did not exist. He also had a hand in having Complex produce and premiere the video for the remix of It G Ma,” which featured Park and fellow rappers Waka Flocka Flame, Father, and A$AP Ferg.
rich brian age – Curious (Lyric Video)
Indonesian rapper Rich Brian premieres the official video for new single “100 Degrees” today. While ‘cultural appropriation’ is a relatively recent term, the concept is nothing new. Hip-hop has long been built on sampling, which is, by nature, appropriation of a kind. The genre operates in an economy of signifiers whereby culture is exchanged, borrowed, credited, amplified, distorted. And 88rising? If you fuck the rules” (a lyric from the hit single Midsummer Madness”), you fuck with the system—and there’s nothing more hip-hop than that.
The Sailor was recorded over the last year between New York, Los Angeles and Jakarta. The album features singles ” Yellow ” and ” Kids ” which have been streamed over 25 million timesglobally. Album highlights include summer anthem “100 Degrees,” “Where Does The Time Go” featuring 88rising labelmate Joji and “Rapapapa,” which includes a spoken word verse from Wu-Tang Clan legend RZA. The Sailor was executive produced by Brian, Bekon & The Donuts and 88rising founder Sean Miyashiro.
Imanuel’s crew, insofar as he has one: his sister Eryka, who’s 23 and is herself a YouTube personality in Indonesia, and a portly 21-year-old guy named Ricky — he asks me not to use his last name — who produces the music Imanuel makes as Rich Chigga and appears in the Dat $tick” video. The truth is that Imanuel, an Internet celebrity whose shtick is one of glib adolescent bravado, is in fact something of a loner. The truth is that this is true of many Internet celebrities. Despite the motifs that recur in both his rap and comedy videos — bottles of liquor, consistent references to kush” — Imanuel doesn’t smoke weed and rarely drinks. Indonesia is a country of cigarette smokers — half of all adults smoke, and a shocking number of children too, as seen in a 2014 Vice documentary on the nation’s tobacco addiction — but Imanuel instead puffs occasionally on a vaporizer.
There’s a line in the Brian Imanuel, stage name Rich Brian, song Kids”, the second single released off of the Indonesian rapper’s 2019 album The Sailor,” that states, I used to be the kid, now the kids wanna be me.” It’s this sense of personal accomplishment, bordering on braggadocious pride, that drives much of the 19-year-old hip hop sensation’s sophomore musical effort.
There is musical expression in every Asian country, but there was never a central platform for it to thrive, until now. In 2015, Miyashiro took a one-way trip to New York with a vision to innovate hip-hop and R&B music in a way that has never been done before – with an Asian flair.
But where Rich Brian’s star power really shone through was in production. In fact, five of those six tracks were self-produced, with Dat $tick” as the only exception. In Rich Brian’s case, many were confounded by the rapper’s absence from XXL Magazine’s Freshman Class, an annual list of rookie hip-hop artists on their come up who’ve generated significant buzz.
To me, I see the album’s name having two meanings. It’s telling us Rich Brian’s story as an immigrant trying to make it in America, and it’s challenging all of us young Asian people to subvert society’s expectations of us. It’s telling us to explore, search, and look into the unknown and undiscovered. The album is telling us to be the sailor.
The showbiz world La La Land depicted is one that Brian now wants to inhabit. I really want to get into acting. I’m still gonna make music,” he promises, but I really want to focus on what I’m passionate about, which is acting.” Looks like Rich Brian won’t ever stop exploring uncharted waters.
Whether or not the music is good never mattered. The offense Brian Imanuel made was cultural, not musical. He could have been the best rapper alive and most ears wouldn’t be enthused to press play on the latest Rich Chigga. It’s why this change is such a great lesson, especially in the internet age. As seen with Odd Future and now Brian, controversial teens can become self-aware adults when given a chance to see and reflect on the error of their ways. Rebranding isn’t always a transformation in terms of fixing a problem, sometimes it’s the natural progression of learning and a desire to be better. I believe Brian wants to start the year as someone new, and not who we believed him to be. For his young fans, this is a great example of growth, and never being too big to be wrong. Millions of views aren’t worth the many who are offended. They matter, and you should care.
Rich Brian is 19-year-old Brian Imanuel, born in Jakarta, Indonesia. After sharing a string of singles featuring guests such as 21 Savage, Offset and Playboi Carti, Brian’s debut album, Amen, was released to widespread critical acclaim in 2018. Brian has since gone on to sell out shows across North America, Europe and Asia, and festivals around the world including Bonnaroo and Rolling Loud. Brian currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Making an album that was written with real instruments in real time in the studio was the antidote to the paralysis of overthinking. The Sailor is pure – clear in motivation and self-awareness. The intent was to inspire others like Brian to be curious – to see what else there is to see.
The Sailor was recorded over the last year between New York, Los Angeles and Jakarta. The album features singles Yellow ” and Kids ” which have been streamed 25 million times globally. Album highlights include summer anthem 100 Degrees,” Where Does The Time Go,” which features 88rising labelmate Joji, and Rapapapa,” which includes a spoken word verse from Wu-Tang Clan legend RZA. The Sailor was executive produced by Brian, Bekon & The Donuts, and 88rising founder Sean Miyashiro.
There was, of course, an internal reckoning and by New Year’s Day 2018, the rapper changed his name to its current iteration. As time has gone on, he says his understanding of the genre has expanded. Rap, he now knows, isn’t confined to stereotypes of American urban life he’d played up in Dat $tick.” This time around, the artist leaned into his authenticity. The resulting album is thick with his own story, heavily drawing on his immigration to the U.S. and others who’ve dealt with the daunting pursuit of the American Dream.
In Rich Brian’s case, however, he’s representing an entire country. Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Rich Brian catapulted his way to mainstream success with his viral single Dat $tick”, which he released under his former alias, Rich Chigga”.
Indonesian rapper Rich Brian premieres the official video for new single 100 Degrees” today—watch here Taken from Rich Brian’s new album, The Sailor, 100 Degrees” is a thematic departure from previous singles Kids” and Yellow.” Produced by 1Mind (French Montana’s Unforgettable”) and Kid Culture, the song is reminiscent of the hot summer days when pool, libraries and movie theatres become the best escape from the heat. Directed by DAPS (Migos, Wizkid and Drake), the video follows a disinterested Brian as he floats through the chaos of the summertime.
At one end of the long dining able, Brian Imanuel, the slightly-built but booming-voiced 18-year-old Indonesian phenom who now performs as Rich Brian, trades rehearsal notes with labelmates about their Double Happiness” tour of the West Coast and New York. At the other end, Sean Miyashiro, the 37-year-old founder of the record label, media portal and catchall entertainment firm 88Rising, dishes with the Chengdu, China-based rap quartet Higher Brothers — here in the U.S. for the first time — about video ideas.
As a teenager in Indonesia, Rich Brian was obsessed with the film La La Land. I remember Emma Stone talking about people that have crazy, huge dreams, and people that have dreams that don’t make any sense,” he says of watching the Hollywood blockbuster. And I just related to that so much. I got really emotional watching that movie.” The city of stars that the movie revolves around is now home to the 19-year-old Chinese-Indonesian rapper, who upped sticks to the US from Jakarta two years ago.
On August 15th, 2010, at age of 10, Imanuel created his Twitter account, where he would upload photoshopped images, including a picture of himself wearing a sweatshirt with the n-word while standing next to President Obama. In 2013, Imanuel launched his Vine account, where he found his first break in online comedy by racking up hundreds of thousands of views. In April 2014, Imanuel began sharing his Vine clips to his newly created YouTube channel. As of October 2017, Rich Chigga’s official Facebook page has more than 551,100 followers.
Honestly, they didn’t know I was rapping until I was about to go to America. I was just making songs for fun before I really started blowing up. After the whole music thing started happening, 88rising picked me up, and they wanted to fly me out to America. I told my mom, who was the one who was the most against it. I was like, “Yo, I think I’m gonna go to America to do a show.” She was like, “You should go. You should do it,” and she was just, like, right away on board with it.
The promising string of singles that followed – Who That Be,” Seventeen,” Back At It” – combined Brian’s one-of-a-kind voice with his surprising knack for producing grimy trap beats, with cover art indebted to his absurdist internet comedy roots Since then, he’s been determined to evolve his sound, to move beyond the status of novelty act, and to speak more candidly on his transition from homeschooled teenager working in his mom’s café to jetsetting rapper living 9,000 miles away from home. At the beginning of 2018, before he put out his debut album Amen , he formally changed his name to Rich Brian, eager to jettison some problematic baggage he still carried from his initial foray into rap.
It’s a big gamble to have Rich Brian less involved in the production for Amen. On one hand, we could hear a renaissance in Rich Brian’s music through all the collaboration with new artists. On the other hand, it’s easy to take too much outside advice as a young up-and-comer on your first label-backed project and lose creative control of the whole process. Being pulled in different directions by a slew of unfamiliar collaborators and new producers can make it hard to retain your music’s identity.
Brian is set to perform songs from The Sailor for the very first time at 88rising’s Head in the Clouds Festival on August 17. He will also embark on a headline tour of North America this October with stops at New York’s Terminal 5, Chicago’s House of Blues, Seattle’s The Showbox and more. See below for the full list of dates.
The Sailor is about Rich Brian’s growth during that time. Recorded between New York, Los Angeles, and Jakarta, the album is somewhat of a shift from the more hyped-up, trappy music Brian was releasing as recently as just last year. It’s a more melodic, musically expressive album than Amen, with light guitars and dusty boom-bap beats sitting alongside party bangers. With these relatively unexpected reference points, we asked Rich Brian about some of the things that led to this creative evolution. Here are six things that inspired The Sailor.
Brian Imanuel was born in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 2nd, 1999. Along with his four siblings, Imanuel was homeschooled in Jakarta and self-taught English by browsing the English-speaking web. Prior to his hip hop career taking off, Imanuel wanted to pursue a career in cinematography. Imanuel currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where he has been staying on visa to work on the recording of his forthcoming debut album.
When it comes to Asian rappers, few have reached the annals of hip hop history or even just earned the validation from major label execs. MC Jin, who famously became the first Asian American solo artist to sign to a major label, achieved the feat decades ago. Such few solo acts have followed since that Jay Park’s signing with Roc Nation in 2017 was heralded as an inconceivable, awe-inspiring move. When it comes to the big awards shows like the Grammys or the Billboard Music Awards, Asian faces are almost negligible in the best song or artist categories.
This wouldn’t be the first time an up-and-coming rapper allowed a label too much control over his first major album and suffered because of it. To see just how hard it is to say no” to a label executive early in your career – and the dangers of not doing so – we can look to the God of Trap Music himself, Gucci Mane.
Yang and Brian aren’t so different: Yang has been dubbed the internet’s favorite candidate” because of his devoted online following, and Brian rose to prominence on Vine and YouTube and had a viral debut single come out via SoundCloud. The internet is a powerful tool in 2019, and both fellows wield it skillfully.
While Chungha has collaborated with many artists, including rappers such as Nucksal and Mommy Son, this will be her first one with an international artist. Rich Brian, previously known as Rich Chigga, has become a force to be reckoned with since his viral music video titled, “Dat $tick” was released in 2016.
After the success of “Dat $tick,” he released “Who That Be” and a “Dat $tick” remix, which featured Pouya and Ghostface Killah on guest verses. Various incendiary singles were released in a flurry in 2017, including “Back at It,” “Chaos,” “Glow Like Dat,” and “Gospel,” the latter of which featured Keith Ape and XXXTENTACION and reached the Top Ten of Billboard’s R&B charts. At the start of 2018, the rapper shed the Rich Chigga moniker and began performing simply as Rich Brian. – Neil Z. Yeung.
Nowadays, the rapper seems adamant about preserving his own, uncorrupted story and honoring his fans. And that is, conceivably, why he isn’t particularly concerned with earning the seal of approval of mainstream gatekeepers of the music industry ― places where Asian hip-hop artists have traditionally felt absent.