Three cheers for Rich Brian’s “Amen”

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Joe Kronberg, Staff Writer

It wasn’t until this year when I started to gain more of a respect for rap music. I generally enjoyed the rhythms and ideas around the more meaningful songs, but Rich Brian, known as Rich Chigga when I first discovered him, expanded my enjoyment and respect for the genre.

Amen is Brian’s first release outside of singles, calling it a project rather than a debut album. The release was so popular that Brian became the first Asian artist to be ranked number one for a Hip-Hop/Rap release on iTunes, and while songs like Kitty tell comedic stories, we also see the softer side of him in songs like Glow Like Dat.

From the top of the project, Amen tells the story of his transitions from an anxious teenager not sure how to perform, to a man following his dreams with plans for the future, but not forgetting his home in Indonesia.

Brian learned English on his own, practicing whenever he could, and learned to rap from YouTube, apologizing whenever his English is incorrect.

The now 18-year-old then talks about how his family and other Asians have reacted to his newfound fame. He still keeps in contact with his parents, who remind him to take care of himself like many parents of teenagers, spends a lot of his time with his manager, and 88rising founder, Sean Miyashiro spitballing ideas, and the reaction of many Asians still in school.

His Asian fans often thank him for making them look cool, and giving them the ability to get girls because of it, given that the usual prototype of a rapper is generally someone black and in their 20’s-30’s. They also credit him for giving them the confidence to follow their dreams outside of the stereotypes given to them by society as the academics.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, he says that some Indonesians believe he’s forgotten about his home and people, which he assures is not the case. “I’m just trying to do something new,” said Brian, who unlike many celebrities from Indonesia who appear in commercials and other forms of advertisement, wants to distance himself for a while, because he believes local artists don’t receive enough appreciation.

Cold brings how he’s matured over the last few years as he first gained his fame from videos on Vine as a joke. He talks about how he used to be surrounded by people, but now is becoming more fond of his alone time as he grows up more. The now more respectful and compassionate Brian is doing what he can to meet his goals and changing his name from “Rich Chigga” to be less provocative. Despite his changes for the better from a maturity perspective, those he is close to seeing him as cold, and not the “Brian that we know.”

Occupied continues on Brian’s maturation, reminiscing about his old music and regretting many aspects of it. As he transitions, he has begun to regret songs like Dat $tick and Crisis, given his use of the n-word, and 21 Savage, featured artist in Crisis, name-dropping him while he was still performing under Rich Chigga. Since moving to L.A., he’s been taking his music more seriously, saying “Don’t need no more trash I got too many where I’m from,” in reference to disliking how he started and referencing the major pollution issues in Indonesia, which is home to one of the dirtiest rivers in the world.

Teaming up with a fellow startup in 88rising, Joji, Introvert is one of the more calm songs in the project in terms of the music itself. Much like Brian, Joji also started his career through comedy in the form of Filthy Frank, which is why this collaboration is one of my favorites. The song is about how the pair feels about their previous works and regrets, along with wondering why they’re “feelin’ so lonely at night,” and wanting to fill the “hole in their souls.”

Talking more about his new life, and responding to his fan’s concerns with this new Brian, he and NIKI, formerly known as Nicole Zefanya, collaborated for Little Prince. Brian sings about growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia, which is coincidentally NIKI’s hometown as well. He then talks about how his life feels more like a movie but doesn’t “really know what I’m watchin’,” possibly a reference to how luxurious life in Los Angeles varies greatly from Indonesia. Possibly one of my favorite set of lines in the project addresses how others feel about these changes within his music, saying “My fans, they are doubtin’ but that ain’t no environment to live in Ayy, they just walk around with no direction Think we got a different destination, man Too dumb to listen, goals already written.” Despite the many who prefer his old, frankly more vulgar work, Brian will continue on the path he’s taken, and continue to grow as a musician.

As a closing to the project, Arizona features new artist’s AUGUST 08’s first appearance in the music world and has only had one single release as of Feb 7. Brian wants people to be more aware of his country, saying “People wonderin’ where is Indo,” and “I swear about a thousand Indonesian kids will come with me,” possibly saying that he wants as many of his people as possible to also rise to fame, and possibly get 1st world countries to help with issues such as pollution in Indonesia. AUGUST 08, like much like Rich Brian, sings about loneliness in his new-found life, saying “Hope is gone, is gone, since I’ve been in Arizona, yeah I fell in love, in love, since I’ve been in Arizona Ooh, when the sun comes through the blinds, I know exactly who to call Watching the sunset in your eyes but I spend the night alone.” The pair of upstarts miss their homes, and want to do what they can to help, despite struggles with feeling alone in the world.

Overall, the project is incredible, and the new Rich Brian is better than ever, rating a solid 4/5. I can’t wait to hear more of his music, and the music that his associates have to bring.