Rich Brian: Amen review – online sensation’s dreamy, deadpan debut
via The Guardian
words by Ben Beaumont-Thomas
This producer-MC has amassed hundreds of millions of YouTube views partly by being an outsider – his deep voice and impassive flow doesn’t quite match the spotty teenager it emanates from. And if there is something patronising, even racist in the way some people have latched on to him (“He’s a rapper, but get this, he’s an Asian nerd!”), Brian is smart enough to complicate matters by embracing it, originally naming himself Rich Chigga and wearing bumbags and khaki shorts. His tracks, meanwhile, are far too good to ever have him sidelined as a novelty. He may be known as a SoundCloud rapper but is a long way from the violent idiocy of Lil Pump, 6ix9ine et al.
Instead, there’s a good dose of the daydreaming, stoner romanticism tapped by Odd Future affiliates such as Frank Ocean, Syd, and Tyler, the Creator, as on woozy ballad Arizona, or Flight, which sees him humbly reflect on his new life. OK, being 18 years old means Brian also has a pathological obsession with fellatio, but his laconic delivery seems to dare you to think he’s serious. And he is often drily amusing even when laying in the gutter: Chaos opens with him celebrating “I’m 18 now and women can legally have sex with me.” His neo-G-funk backings – synthscapes in pink neon with weed smoke drifting across them – are admirably lush and melancholic, but his flow is his greatest skill of all, deadpan patter that rattles out like ticker tape.