Indonesian rapper Rich Brian (formerly Rich Chigga) makes a well-produced attempt at proving he is an emcee capable of being more than just a singles artist. With his first album Amen, Brian presents a mediocre package of 14 tracks and a 44-minute run time.
Though Rich Brian’s new persona offers little in creative differences, his outward appearance has grown away from his odd fashion sense previously comprised of buttoned-up polos and brightly colored fanny packs.
No longer is Brian casually dropping the “N” word, which is largely due to the push back he experienced from its usage on his successful single “Dat $tick.” In an interview with Genius, he discussed how he was “trying to make people less sensitive to the word,” only to realize he was “not in a position to do that.”
"I f****d up."
It is apparent that Rich Brian is aware he needs to prove himself as an artist, one who is not defined by “Dat $tick.” However, when you consider the track received so much viral attention, to the point where Ghostface Killah reached out and made a remix with him, you cannot take away from the song’s success. Amen needed to be packed full of noteworthy material to gain a foothold into the next level of artistry — simply, it is not.
Brian’s monotone flow and fun pepperings of comical quips make for a valid, though familiar transition from his Rich Chigga persona. And yet, it falls short of the mark. Except for a few fun tracks, the album never breaks through as a listening experience worth returning to. The highlights of the album are too few and far between to justify a strong rating, and the final product feels underwhelming.
The unique duality of Rich Brian’s music is the strong delivery of his lyrics coinciding with the professional production. Brian’s confidence as a rapper and quality of his self-made beats are enough to gain attention for a possible XXL Freshman feature this year.
However, Brian’s most compelling tracks are those that sound most akin to “Dat $tick,” and the only one to feature a strong narrative is the tongue-in-cheek “Kitty.” I found that Brian’s humor and capability to snag a listener's attention is best displayed on this song, all the while keeping the humor tasteful (if not a bit immature).
What is most disappointing with this project are some of his weaker verses that come off as clear throwaway bars. With lyrics like “I'm a rapper but don’t call me Chance” and “I don’t use triplet flows because I'm not a Migo,” you wonder how these lines made it through the creative process.
"You wonder how these lines made it through the creative process."
The closing track “Arizona” holds its own as a gentle symphonic melody thanks to vocals by August 08. Another unique, though unintended similarity Brian achieves is sounding on par with rapper Kid Cudi on the track “See Me.” The humming delivery and flow of Brian draws a lot of parallels with Cudi’s classic crooning in all the right ways.
In defense of Rich Brian, he is remarkably young to be performing at such a strong level as an artist: Especially when compared to his less original and more heinous SoundCloud peers. For being only 18 years old, he has a comfortable amount of downtime to return to the drawing board and take another crack at achieving the next level of skill that eluded him on this project.
I would suggest readers to check out the above-mentioned tracks and — if you like what you hear — the rest of the album. As for the casual listener, Rich Brian is an understandable skip, though I would encourage everyone to pay attention to this artist as he hopefully matures into a stronger emcee.
Final Score: C-