Rich Brian, Amen | Album Review
18-year old Indonesian rapper Rich Brian (formerly Rich Chigga) of “Dat $tick” fame and infamy, delivers a promising debut album with ‘Amen.’
Indonesian rapper Rich Brian – the artist formerly known as Rich Chigga – has been making a name for himself. Don’t let the age fool you – he’s no bubblegum, childish pop-rapper. Brian, enjoys his profanity – particularly f-bombs – like any other rapper. Notably, this 18-year old has an incredibly deep, distinct voice. Early on in his career, age of 16 to be exact, he’s already offended people with controversial single “Dat $tick”. Following “Dat $tick” and a host of other singles, a promising debut album, Amen, finally arrives. “Let the church say yesssssss!”
The brief “Amen” launches abruptly with the agile rhymes by the deep-voiced rapper. The production is skeletal, with the most attention focused on Brian himself. “Cold” follows, sporting a lusher, more pronounced backdrop. Ultimately, it’s a ‘bigger statement’ for Brian thanks to more sounds and more vocal inflection. If he sounded more deadpan on “Amen,” he exhibits more range – a more engaged performance – on “Cold.” The hook is the crowning achievement.
“Occupied” contrasts the more lush “Cold” in favor of a more hard-nosed approach. The production is minimal – more loop and ostinatos than ‘symphony.’ Harmonically, it’s incredibly simple, incorporating two chords, tonic and dominant. The end result is a respectable banger, though not the best of Amen. Follow-up joint “Introvert” is more interesting. The chill, nonchalant vocals of Joji establishes a sick vibe. Rich Brian builds off it, with quick-paced rhymes, with their share of biting moments. Harmonically, it stretches the ear more than “Occupied” could ever hope to – more alternative and left-of-center.
“Occupied” was a decent banger, but “Attention” trumps it by a mile. Spitting over a malicious, tough, minor-key backdrop, Rich Brian is on autopilot from the start. The hook is killer – among the most impressive of Amen. Adding the cherry on top is a guest appearance by Offset, who is built for a jam like this. Advance single “Glow Like Dat” has its fair share of pros. The production is much kinder and gentler than “Attention.” This cooler, mellower sound is fitting given that the song is about an ex. It’s not his most heavy-hitting record, but sound and still worthy of spins.
Following the more mellow “Glow Like Dat,” the ‘edge’ is restored on another enjoyable banger, “Trespass.” Rich Brian is unapologetic, spitting straight trash talk, as well as referencing more random things such as Bitcoins. “Flight” retains a sleek sound, with Brian reflecting on life, his career in its present state, and the future. It’s somewhat cliché – every rapper has a come-up joint – but all in all, honest and personal.
The production of “See Me” has a mellow, appealing, synth-driven sound. Don’t call it soft though – Rich Brian still packs a punch. He lays a wordy, but appealing hook at the top of the record. Following the hook, things get a bit non-standard regarding the form, with a bridge. Later, the second and final iteration of the bridge precedes chorus, rather than following it. The meat arrives with the sole verse, where Brian ‘does the damn thing.’ His rhymes encompass sex, money, and hunger. “Enemies” follows, yielding another decent listen. Even so, it’s less memorable than the crème de la crème.
“Ain’t no game that I play when it comes to / Gettin’ that kitty out the cage for my night.” “Kitty” is the dirtiest and perhaps most outrageous song on Amen, capturing the sexual awakening of Rich Brian. Even as he’s ‘getting it in,’ there’s a humorous, twist. After getting drunk, meeting “the girl of [his] dreams,” virgin Brian has sex with her, gets caught by her mom, has his friend Mike pick him up, and finds out his first was Mike’s sister. Following “Kitty” in all its explicit ridiculousness is a tall task. “Little Prince” featuring NIKI is up to it, even if it doesn’t supplant it. NIKI drops clear, sexy vocals, while Rich Brian delivers a more balanced, expressive rhyming approach.
“Yeah happy birthday to me / I’m 18 now / And women can legally have sex with me / Shout out Based God.” Rich Brian ‘goes hard’ on penultimate record “Chaos,” one of the advance singles from Amen. Short and sweet, Brian celebrates his big milestone – manhood. The production is bangs from the jump, perfect fuel for the fire – a ‘deep’ fire given his distinct, deep voice.
“Arizona” concludes Amen in alluring fashion. AUGUST 08 provides some absolutely stunning vocals. The production contrasts everything else that precedes it, providing welcome contrast. Detuned piano, distinct drum programming – excellent. As for Brian, he caps off things successfully.
All in all, Rich Brian delivers a solid, promising debut with Amen. Comprised of 14 tracks and running 44 overall, it’s an optimal length. There are no deal breaking misses, though it should be noted that everything appearing on Amen isn’t necessarily a hit. Omitted teaser tracks such as banger “Gospel”, A$AP Rocky feature, “Crisis”, and the star-studded “18” would’ve been welcomed with “open arms.” Quibbling aside, Amen is a great start for Brian.
Gems: “Cold,” “Introvert,” “Attention,” “See Me,” “Kitty” & “Chaos”