Launching his career, like most young artists, Brian Imanuel began making rap videos on YouTube beginning in early 2016. Two years and 85 million views later, he launched his first record and it’s one of the best rap albums I’ve ever heard.
Rich Brian, previously known as Rich Chigga, had a very eventful 2017, producing several popular videos and featuring with mainstream artists such as 21 Savage and Offset. Following his eventful name change with one of his most popular songs “See Me,” Brian announced the album on the first day of 2018. A day later, Brian made history as the first Asian artist to reach #1 on the ITunes hip-hop chart.
“HISTORY. @richbrian is the first Asian artist in history, to ever reach #1 on the ITunes Hip Hop Chart,” 88rising, the company to which Brian is signed, tweeted.
“This has been the best day of my life,” Brian tweeted hours after the release of “Amen.”
A few days after the album’s release, Brian did an interview with Billboard. Brian talked about his name change and how he intends to portray himself throughout the future.
“Rich Chigga isn’t me anymore,” Brian said. “Being in the United States made me realize that I wanted to [make the] change. I wanted to go a certain way with my music, a certain direction. It just felt right… It’s pretty hard as an Asian rapper to not be put in a box. I do my best to avoid that. I’m finding new ways to make things catchy. I’m just trying to be more versatile.”
After all, his previous stage name was a creation of 2016 internet culture and was used to portray the more childish, joking side of Brian. With the release of the controversial song “Dat $tick,” in which Brian drops the N word, he was seen as mocking rap culture. Despite this, in a video on the 88rising YouTube channel, several popular rap artists complimented Brian on his boldness and the flow of his lyrics.
As one may guess from the name change and the subject matter of his latest lyrics, “Amen” is intended to serve as a sort of rebirth for the young rapper. “Amen,” the first song on the album, gives an overview of his life up to current day. Brian utilizes his talent in fast-paced rapping to tell listeners about his headspace and even references how he learned fluid English through watching YouTube videos.
Moving through the other 13 tracks, Brian gives interesting accounts of his love life, tells how his sudden fame has affected his social life and even gives a play-by-play of the trials of losing his virginity in a catchy, intense tune.
“I produced like 95 percent of it [‘Amen’],” Brian said in an interview with Vulture. “I’ve been really inspired by Drake [and] Kendrick Lamar. I’m definitely going to keep working on songs, nonstop. And I want to get into acting…I feel like acting is what I really wish to do.”
“Amen” is available now on ITunes and Spotify.