Rich Brian is an Indonesian rapper, record producer, and songwriter. Still in his teens, he is known as one of the most promising teenage music idols in the country. He rose to fame in 2016, following the release of his debut single, ‘Dat $tick.’ The song was later certified “gold” by the ‘Recording Industry Association of America’ (RIAA). Born and raised in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, he was mostly homeschooled by his parents. They lived in a lower middle-class neighborhood. In 2010, he discovered the world of social media and began exploring the platform by uploading videos such as comedy sketches. He taught himself English by watching ‘YouTube’ videos and listening to American songs. When he was 14 years old, he recorded his very first rap song. In February 2018, he released his debut album, ‘Amen,’ and became one of the very few Indonesian musicians to achieve considerable success in the American mainstream music industry.
Childhood & Early Life
Rich Brian was born Brian Imanuel, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on September 3, 1999. His father was a lawyer. They also ran a family restaurant. His parents have their roots in China. Rich grew up with three other siblings. Despite the family having sufficient money, they chose to stay in a locality that was not considered to be decent. This led his parents to keep Rich away from the outside world as much as possible. As a result, he spent most of his time in front of a computer or a TV.
Rich was mostly homeschooled and never received any formal education. In his free time, he helped his parents run their family restaurant. Since he was homeschooled, he had ample time to explore other areas, such as music and the internet. He once wished to solve a ‘Rubik’s Cube’ and soon realized that he could take the help of the internet to solve the cube. In the process, he logged into his father’s computer and discovered a whole new world.
Soon, he became addicted to ‘YouTube’ and ‘Twitter.’ At the age of 11, he became determined to let himself be seen by a large number of people and started his ‘YouTube’ channel. He followed the American way of ‘YouTube’ and made some dark-comedy sketches to gain a fan base. His videos slowly garnered appreciation and eventually became viral.
At the age of 15, he moved to a more interesting platform, ‘Vine,’ and became equally popular there. Being an Indonesian, neither was English his first language nor did he learn it while being homeschooled. However, he later learned English by watching ‘YouTube’ videos and listening to American music.
One of his American online friends introduced Brian to American hip-hop music. Around that time, he wanted to pursue a professional course in cinematography and wished to work in Hollywood. However, his introduction to the music of Kanye West, Drake, and Logic changed his focus. He ended up writing his very first rap song in 2014 and recorded it on his ‘iPhone,’ using an already existing record. Within a couple of years, his music career was launched.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
In July 2015, Brian adopted his screen name, “Rich Chigga,” and started uploading music videos of his rap songs on the internet. His debut ‘YouTube’ track was ‘Living the Dream.’ The song was produced by DJ Smokey and managed to grab a lot of eyeballs. He was one of the few Indonesian rappers who could write raps in flawless English, and within a short span of time, it was hard to distinguish him from American rappers.
His biggest career breakthrough arrived in February 2016, when he uploaded his single ‘Dat $tick’ on ‘YouTube.’ The single was a slow success, but it eventually picked up pace. The song crossed the national borders and reached the US. There, a few rappers and “YouTubers” decided to create reaction videos for the song, thereby making it more famous. The video has amassed more than 90 million “views” on ‘YouTube’ since its release.
The single was eventually certified “gold” by the ‘RIAA.’ It also made its place among the top hits of many American rap charts.
Following the success of the single, Brian released another single, ‘Who That Be,’ in August 2016. He used ‘iTunes’ as the platform for its release. The song followed the success of ‘Dat $tick,’ becoming a success in Indonesia and the US. A few months later, Brian released the remix of ‘Dat $tick.’ He then released his third single, ‘Seventeen.’ The song achieved more than a million “views” within the first few days of its release on ‘YouTube.’
By mid-2017, he had become a celebrity in the US, too. Several American record companies approached him. His popularity reached new heights when he embarked on a month-long tour across the US in April 2017. In May, he released another single, ‘Gospel,’ which featured American rappers XXXTentacion and Keith Ape. Within five months of its release on ‘YouTube,’ the song became a megahit and gathered more than 21 million “views.” The song was released on ‘88Rising’s official ‘YouTube’ channel.
In May 2017, Brian was honored with the ‘Breakthrough Artist of the Year’ award at the ‘Indonesian Choice Awards.’ Around the same time, Brian announced during an interview that he was working on his debut album and that it was being produced entirely in Los Angeles.
On August 15, 2017, Brian released the single ‘Glow Like Dat’ on ‘88Rising’s channel. In the same month, he announced that he would be embarking on an American tour for the following two months. Toward the end of the year, Brian released the singles ‘Chaos’ and ‘Crisis.’ Of them, the latter was recorded in collaboration with popular American rapper 21 Savage.
In December 2017, Brian announced through his ‘Twitter’ account that he would release his debut album, ‘Amen,’ in February 2018. In January 2018, Brian changed his stage name to “Brian.” He took the step to make his fans take him more seriously, as he was drifting toward serious themes while recording his debut album. However, he later changed his stage name to “Rich Brian.”
The album ‘Amen’ was released on February 2 and became an instant success. With the release and success of the album, Rich became the first Asian artist to ace the ‘iTunes Hip Hop’ chart.
Rich Brian was rumored to be in a relationship in mid-2015. It was a long-distance relationship with a girl from Maryland, US.
Rich has made Los Angeles his second home, as he spends most of his time there.
He was dragged into controversy in the past for using the stage name “Rich Chigga,” as it had racial undertones. He changed his stage name later.