By Tyler McLaurin
With the internet widening the focus of our media, we’re beginning to see artists from all over the world blow up. We live in a world of physical proximity but also mental proximity or proximity based on interest. No one embodies the potential for this success better than Brian Imanuel, also known as rapper Rich Chigga.
Rich Chigga created a lot of buzz in the past year with his viral single “Dat $tick”. The formula for success in the viral market is apparent. Take a verse typical of the many trap artists seen in the mainstream, and put it in the mouth of a fanny pack wearing, deep voiced, Asian kid. The result is equal parts hilarious and dope. The secret being Rich Chigga’s surprisingly competent flow and delivery. The lyrics are vicious, the beat rattles – the song is an outright banger.
Dat $tick propelled Rich Chigga into a new level of success, one that is only possible with the internet age. Within a few months of the song dropping, 88rising (more of them later) released a video titled “Rappers React to Rich Chigga ft. Ghostface Killah, Desiigner, Tory Lanez & More”. This video contributed to the narrative that Rich Chigga is an up and coming talent, and lent credibility to Dat Stick. In the video, Ghostface Killah said he’d be down to get on the remix, and lo and behold, a few months later he did! Within a year, Brian Imanuel went from a comedian with a satirical trap song to a legitimate rapper featuring alongside some of the most successful and respected artists in the game.
Despite his appearance and proficient English, Brian is actually from Jakarta, the capital and economic center of Indonesia. Learning English through the internet, Brian started his online career as a comedian; however, he received little exposure outside of Indonesia. In an interview with Genius, Brian explains that Dat $tick was planned to be part of his comedy, however, he decided to test his skills and see what he could do if he tried to rap as proficiently as possible.
The results were apparent, as now Rich Chigga has transcended his living meme status and has begun to mature into a legitimate artist. At only 17 years old, Brian has achieved an astronomical level of success without most of the infrastructure once necessary for such a rise. The only thing propelling Brian was his own initiative and the help of the previously mentioned 88rising.
But what is 88rising? It turns out 88rising is a promotional company who work specifically to promote Asian artists. Korean rapper Keith Ape also works with 88rising. In fact, he has featured alongside Rich Chigga and XXXTentacion on a track about a month ago. This gives us a peek into how Rich Chigga received his initial spur of success. We know the song and video were likely produced by Brian and his friends in Jakarta, however, the surrounding narrative and his massive exposure made possible by 88rising.
While the United States still seems to be the hub for popular music, we are beginning to see people from other cultures throw their hats into the ring too. 88rising pushing progressive music by Asian creators is a noble venture into decentralizing popular music and music culture. Rich Chigga represents a new kind of up and coming talent, one that blowing up on an international scale. While the model hasn’t completely changed, the internet has enabled artists to skip a few rungs on the ladder. Initial local success is critical; Brian would have been unable to take that first leap without support from people in Jakarta. That being said, once that success has been realized, it’s now easier than ever to spring oneself onto the international stage.