Rich Brian is a chameleon on ‘Amen’

Henry Netherland

Photo Courtesy of iTunes

In 2016, an Indonesian teenager wearing a pink polo and fanny pack would unknowingly change the rap industry with his debut single, “Dat Stick.

Now in 2018, with his debut album, “Amen,” Rich Brian—formerly known as Rich Chigga—has become the first Asian to ever reach the number one spot on the iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap chart, according to his label, 88rising, on their official Twitter.

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Ever since “Dat Stick” has blown up, Brian has consistently released a slew of singles with many of them garnering millions of views on YouTube. His stone-cold flow mixed with his sense of humor has helped him stand out from his contemporaries. Out of the over 10 singles he has released, only three land on the album: “See Me,” “Glow Like Dat” and “Chaos.”

The album opens with a two-minute, low-key title track. Brian reservedly raps with his usual flow over an almost non-existent instrumental, which eventually crescendos into a mixture of ambient music and hip-hop beats. It is not a bad way to start an album. For the first time, we get to see a more personal side of Brian. We are not getting his life story or anything, but he brings up being homeschooled, being raised by the internet and even his ambitions.

I don’t need no education, Internet’s my favorite teacher.”

-Rich Brian

The song “Introvert,” with Joji, had potential. Joji and Brian usually have amazing chemistry in song and real life; however, Joji’s half-assed singing really sours the entire mood. The melody on the chorus is pleasant and the instrumental is pretty solid too. Even Brian’s lyrics are some of his most self-reflective. Unfortunately, Joji’s portion is just lazy and probably one of the most phoned-in he has ever mustered up.

“Attention,” with Offset of the Migos, is a trap banger. Both of them come through with head-bobbing flows that are some of the catchiest on the album. Offset’s verse acts as a nice change of voice given that he is the only guest rapper on the whole record.

Songs like “Occupied,” “Trespass” and “Enemies” are not awful, but they are super forgettable and do not really add anything to the album that has not been heard already. “Enemies” is especially weak because it has this sing-song chorus that becomes increasingly irritating every listen. Overall, there are not any moments when “Amen” is abhorrent. The worst it gets is bland to forgettable.

“Little Prince,” with NIKI, is the quietest cut on the tracklist. The instrumental is barebones with barely anything being audible. This is not a bad thing necessarily, as now the listener is forced to focus on the duo’s vocals more. Despite lacking energy, Brian and NIKI have some of the best singing on “Amen.” NIKI’s voice beautifully disintegrates into the atmosphere after every line and Brian shows more range in pitch than has ever been heard on the project.

Brian Rich:

“Amen’s” greatest flaw is Brian’s vocals. His voice feels literally like one note. Moments where he ventures one octave outside of his comfort zone are sparse to nonexistent. Every song he raps with the same stone-cold delivery. Despite this, his voice is naturally chameleonic. While his voice stays pretty consistent, the instrumentals he raps over are incredibly diverse. In fact, I could not find a single instrumental that did not perfectly complement his voice.

“Arizona,” with AUGUST 08, is a perfect way to close the album. The song is 5 minutes, but it feels divided into portions. He ventures outside of his comfort zone the most here while keeping his own quirks. In the beginning, the vibe sounds like it came directly off of Tyler, the Creator’s newest album, “Flower Boy.” AUGUST 08 provides a beautifully sung chorus with Brian rapping in his usual style. In the second portion, Brian raps with one his fastest flows ever recorded over a completely different instrumental. And in the final minute of the record, we listen to a bizarre conversation of Brian trolling his manager about the series finale of “The Office.”

Should you listen to it? Yes

Rich Brian’s “Amen” is a flawed, but an enjoyable project nonetheless. Going into this record, I was expecting trap bangers with a dash of sentimental melodic love songs. Instead, I got a pretty diverse mixture of tracks. I was especially not expecting to enjoy his softer cuts over his harder ones. It is a shame how early into his career Brian is and he has already found himself stuck in a formula, but I still look forward to his future material.

Collegian reporter Henry Netherland can be reached at entertainment@.com or on Twitter @NetherlandHenry

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