Born on September 3, 1999, Rich Brian is unarguably the most prominent rap act to come out from Asia.
The 19-year-old Rich Brian whose stage name was formerly Rich Chigga first came into international recognition in 2016 with the release of a YouTube video titled “Dat $tick.” A video that went on to become viral and has since garnered over 125 million views.
“Dat $tick” wasn’t Rich Brian’s first song though. He had earlier released a single track called “Living the Dream” on July 17, 2015.
Rich Brian’s storied journey to fame, money, and international recognition is an inspiration to young Asians wanting to break into the entertainment industry
Back in 2016 as a 16-year-old, he learned how to speak English from watching YouTube videos. He never had a formal education even though his dad was a lawyer. He was homeschooled. But that didn’t stop the young Brian from chasing his dreams of becoming either a music or movie star.
A bit more about Rich Brian’s childhood
He was born and raised in the middle-to-low income neighborhood of Jakarta. And, was the last child of the family of four children.
Brian believed his dad greatly influenced his outlook on life. According to the rapper, “He [his dad] is the most positive person that I know. I’ve seen him go through shit and deal with it with such a positive attitude,” he said.
“Sure, there’s no song in particular about my dad, but his influence shines through subtly.”
Brian’s former stage name Rich Chigga is a fusion of two words “Chi” from Chinese and “gga” from “the N-word.” A name he formally changed after coming under fire for cultural appropriation.
After releasing the breakout video “Dat $tick” on 88rising YouTube channel, he went on to work with American rappers 21 Savage, Tory Lanez, Ghostface Killah, and hosts of others.
He followed up on the successes of “Dat $tick” with the release of a second single “Who That Be” on iTunes and a third, “Seventeen” which became a hit surpassing one million views on YouTube and SoundCloud.
Brian was determined to transition from the teenage novelty act that brought him to fame to a serious, more matured singer ready to take on the world.
On February 2, 2018, he released his first studio album “Amen” which rose to become the first Asian album to top the iTunes hip-hop charts and to reach number 18 on the US billboard 200.
April 4, Brain released “Watch Out!” He appeared on the 88risings compilation album. To promote the album, he featured rappers Joji and the Higher Brothers.
Rich Brian on July 19, 2019, released a new single titled “Kids” in which he talked about his childhood hometown Jakarta. As of today, “kids” has garnered over 6.5 million views on YouTube.
On July 26, 2019, Brian dropped his second studio album “Sailor” featuring Joji and RZA. During a recent interview, he explained the idea behind his new album.
“Sailor” is about his personal journey from moving to the US to rapping and immigrants’ hope of making it in America.
Spotify partnered with Rich Brian to bring an immersive Sailor Experience to the public in August at Gudang Gambar, South Jakarta.
The Sailor exhibition will mark the first time the streaming service will hold an interactive concert in Asia.