YouTubeHow Rich Chigga changed Indonesia’s hip-hop scene

Shradha Singh4 years ago

Rapper, Rich Chigga aka Brian Immanuel has taken the internet by storm since the release of Dat $tick on the YouTube. Few had heard about him before 2016 but ever since that video went viral, he has come into the eyes of the likes of Ghostface Killah and other well-known faces of hip-hop.

Channel Stats: Brian Imanuel |
Channel Stats: Brian Imanuel |

All of 16 years at the time, Chigga’s profane track video had him wearing a pink polo neck,  and an eye-catching fanny pack with a Martell cognac to complete the drill trap look. Brian’s fame quickly grew after he joined forces with 88Rising, a collective based out in the US that helps Asian artists get a global audience.

His hometown, Jakarta, is baffled by how he managed to get his name out there and achieve so much fame at such a young age. Now 18, Brian had built a pretty decent fan following on YouTube with comedy clips. Once he released Dat $tick he achieved breakout success and largely impacted the hip-hop scene in Indonesia. The Rich Chigga youtube channel grew to new heights and got over 20 million views in a matter of no time.

Chigga has self-taught English to carve a niche for himself. Initially, he struggled to mutter words in one go and has self-confessed that he was very bad at speaking but talking fast helped him get a grasp on it. Macklemore’s Thrift shop was the first song he tried to master and that pushed him more to improve his English speaking skills. He cities Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean as his biggest influences.

Channel Viewership: Brian Imanuel |
Channel Viewership: Brian Imanuel |

Brian’s crew so far includes his sister Eryka and a friend who goes by the name of Ricky who has helped him with the production of his music thus far. Being the youngest of four and homeschooled, Brian spent a lot of time alone at their family run cafe. Fond of music since the tender age of five, Brian took to the drums as a creative outlet. He was even part of a band with his sister and they sang mainly Christian music.  His sister felt that his anti-social nature propelled him to join YouTube and Twitter at such a young age which is how he got a lot of time on his hands to play with the content he was putting out. He made a conscious effort to make and record beats, photoshopping images and putting them out on social media. He hasn’t looked back since.

Quite a few Indonesian rappers are following suit and looking up to Brian for inspiration. There is a sort of renaissance that the country is witnessing in its hip-hop scene and this change is being largely triggered by him. A Jakarta based hip hop artist by the name of Ramengvrl, who released I’m Da Man (2017) says that Brian Immanuel is an icon and she along with many others looks up to him.

His rise to fame internationally has impressed fans of old school music too. His rapping method has rejuvenated Indonesian hip-hop and allowed others to be more willing to experiment and collaborate.

Bing Jaa, aka Jawir, a popular figure on the Indonesian rap scene has managed artists for decades now. He feels that Brian Immanuel has definitely cracked the Internet and has leveraged the beauty of technology to achieve a bigger impact. Many have complimented Brian’s ability to break the standard norm and left stunned by how at such a young age he has taken the YouTube scene by storm.

In the 1990s, Indonesia was plagued by many social challenges and environmental issues. The hip-hop scene became more vibrant with time as youngsters got more and more inspired by the type of music they heard coming from the US. Jawir fondly remembers that time and felt that the struggle that rappers faced at the time made what rapping is today. Rappers had to hack lines for power and go the extent of stealing electricity to set their stage up and perform shows underground. Baggy attires, dissing tracks and spit-balling about skin color was an integral part of the hip-hop scene. Old school rappers wish that the new generation of rappers would strive to make Indonesian rap popular to highlight the uniqueness and keep native dialects alive.

Chigga has now relocated to Los Angeles after getting an opportunity to perform in Texas.  He is slowly adjusting to the life there but is totally psyched to be living the American dream. He is currently touring in the US in a bus of his own and hopes to get down to writing new material for a full album soon. Meanwhile, the Rich Chigga hip-hop channel is continuing to inspire youngsters in Indonesia to create new music and embrace the power of YouTube.


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