Indonesia’s Rich Brian becomes first Asian artist to top hip-hop charts

Rich Brian as he appears in the video for 2017's Glow Like Dat. Source: 88 Rising

INDONESIAN hip hop artist Rich Brian has made history by becoming the first artist from Asia to top the iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap chart after the release of his debut album Amen last week.

The rapper’s US-based hip-hop label 88 Rising tweeted on Sunday: “HISTORY. @richbrian is the first Asian artist in history, to ever reach #1 on the ITunes Hip Hop Chart. People think, rarely wonder”. On Monday it remained at number five, edging out rap juggernauts Migos’ Culture II.

Born Brian Imanuel, the 18-year-old Jakarta native gained a following online as a comedian before getting into hip-hop, gaining the attention of the music world under the moniker Rich Chigga and moving to Los Angeles last year.

His break out song – 2016’s “Dat $tick”, the video for which he appeared in a middle class suburban neighbourhood donning a fanny pack and pink polo shirt – has now amassed 85 million views on YouTube. His song “Gospel” previously reached the top ten in Billboard’s R&B charts.

“I don’t want to be boxed in or looked at a certain way, as in, ‘Yo, he’s an Asian rapper,’” Imanuel recently told Billboard. “It’s pretty hard as an Asian rapper to not be put in a box. I do my best to avoid that.”

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Citing American hip hop influences like Childish Gambino, Macklemore and Tyler, the Creator, Rich Brian has previously appeared on songs with Soundcloud sensation 21 Savage, while “Dat $tick” was remixed with a verse from rap icon Ghostface Killah.

On Friday night, Rich Brian performed the title track of Amen and “Cold” on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

While one track on the album features Offset, a member of Migos, most of the album is helmed solely by the teenaged lyricist. “His tracks … are far too good to ever have him sidelined as a novelty,” wrote the Guardian in a review of Amen.

Rich Brian claims to have produced 95 percent of the album himself.

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