Review: Rich Brian — Amen

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 at 5:30 PM
Review: Rich Brian — Amen by Roman Sabella

                                                                          ★★★☆☆

If someone were to have told me that the same guy who made “Dat $tick” was going to, less than two years later, top the iTunes hip-hop chart I would’ve probably laughed in their face. But now here we are with the release of “Amen,” the debut album from Rich Brian, formally known as Rich Chigga, showing off an entirely different look.

The first thing I noticed in my listen through, is the signature sound of 88Rising that drenches the record in controlled hi-hats, thundering lo-fi bass drums and the relaxing wind chime mimicry of an arpeggiated guitar. When there isn’t the presence of a guitar, there is commonly some sort of retro sounding electric piano driving the song and setting it apart from the average loud horns and thundering distorted bass seen in more popular hip-hop.

With a career that started with Brian wearing a fanny pack with cargo shorts and a pink polo, one might wonder how he has matured into something like this, and that is where the name change comes into play.

While his first stage name was a mixture of Chinese and a racial slur, initially made as a joke, the change to Rich Brian shows off a more mature direction for his future. At only 18, he has quite a long future ahead too, which is impressive for a homeschooled, middle-to-low class kid from Jakarta, Indonesia who learned English through rappers like Macklemore, Tyler, the Creator and Childish Gambino.

What’s more impressive than learning English via YouTube is the fact that his execution is really good and his flow rivals some of the best English native speakers. If anything, his accent adds to his voice and iconic sound.

The evolution between an ironic internet joke rapper similar to Lil Dicky into a more serious performer is quite impressive, but as with most debut albums, problems are guaranteed to arise.

Sadly many of the tracks sound too blasé and similar to stick out and they ended up sounding similar enough that I would at some points not pick up on a song change at all. However, about half of the album falls into a lo-fi hip hop sound that really works, but sadly it’s only half of the album.

Arguably if it were all the same lo-fi sound I’d be complaining about that being too similar, so maybe the saving grace is that less is more and these songs stuck better because of it.

Another complaint comes in his flow, which I understand is contradictory, but listen to the whole album and you’ll understand. He rips on Migos for their heavy use of triplets (one of the few disses on the track), but he seems to have one kind of flow and doesn’t deviate from it much if at all.

Understandably this is due to English being his second language, so I’ll cut slack for it, but hopefully next time it’ll have some more variance.

With one single certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and a number one album on iTunes, it’s a sure thing this won’t be the last we hear from Rich Brian, but one can only hope that his next album feels more cohesive and less bland.

Standout Tracks: “Cold,” “Introvert (feat. Joji)” and “See Me"

Stream below:

Roman Sabella is the voices editor for The Spectator. 

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