For someone who only got into hip-hop in 2012, Rich Brian has been through a whirlwind of a career. Beginning with his controversial viral hit "Dat $tick" in 2016, he's spent the better part of two years finding a more unique, natural sound, honing his production skills, and undergoing a well-publicized name change. The fanny pack-wearing Brian Imanuel we were introduced to is radically different than the one on Amen, his impressive debut project, which you can stream now.
After starting his career as a derivative parody trap rapper, Imanuel developed a dreamier, more surreal sonic style with tracks like "Glow Like Dat" and "See Me," and let his personality shine through on funny, swaggering cuts like "Chaos" and "Attention." Known for his sense of humor on Vine and Twitter, Imanuel drops plenty of quotables throughout Amen, but also showcases improved songwriting abilities and a diverse range of influences.
In a recent interview with Complex, Imanuel said he had been listening to Tame Impala, Mac DeMarco, Frank Ocean, and Childish Gambino for inspiration. He revealed that Amen was roughly 95 percent self-produced, citing Murda Beatz and Frank Dukes as two of his current favorite producers, and also explained some of the experiences that informed the record.
"A lot of the stuff that I'm talking about are experiences that I've been going through, like being in America for the first time and going through all of these things, and then past experiences of growing up in Indonesia, and just being with my family," the rapper said. "Also, the name of the project is Amen. It's because I say 'Amen' a lot, because I'm a very optimistic person, but at the same time, you can never be too confident about things because who knows what's going to happen?"
The project includes features from Joji, Offset, NIKI, and August08. Imanuel and 88rising previously released a teaser trailer for Amen. In the days leading up to its release, Imanuel shared an inspiring message on Twitter that typified his off-kilter sense of humor: "Do whatever the hell u want. be a plumber."
Equally funny and revealing, Amen is an strong, cohesive release from a budding producer and charismatic MC clearly showing that he's putting it all together. If you're still hung up on Rich Brian as some sort of gag, then you haven't been paying attention and need to spend some serious time with his debut.