Indonesian rapper Rich Brian is one of the most interesting rappers in music right now, and he continues to up his game with every new song he drops.
To celebrate the release of his new EP, 1999, we've put together 10 facts you might not have known about Rich Brian, so you can learn a little more about the man behind the music.
He credits the Internet for teaching him almost everything he knows
Brian never had a formal education, spending most of his time helping his parents run their café while he was homeschooled. Back in 2016, he said he learnt a lot from spending time on the web. “I learned almost everything I know from the internet, even culture, basic common sense, cinematography, and I’m still learning.” Relatable.
He originally was a YouTuber/Viner
In 2010, as an 11-year-old, Brian wanted to learn how to solve a Rubik's Cube - so he went on the computer to find out how to do it. He discovered YouTube, and fell in love with making video content. He started his own YouTube channel the same year, before moving onto Vine when he was 15.
He learnt English from YouTube and hip-hop
Brian taught himself English by watching YouTube, and listening to the likes of Childish Gambino, 2 Chainz and Tyler, The Creator. The first hip-hop track he heard was back in 2012, when an American mate of his showed him Macklemore's Thrift Shop.
His first song was recorded on an iPhone
After listening to hip-hop for a couple of years, Brian decided to give it a crack himself. He grabbed his iPhone, and spat some bars into the phone's mic - and put the bars over an MF Doom instrumental.
He learnt to produce music by remaking beats
Brian wanted to produce music, as well as rap, and he taught himself how to make instrumentals by copying some of his favourites. He told Pitchfork “my goal was to make the beat sound exactly like it does in the original. When you listen deeply to a song you find all the little sounds they use, and subconsciously learn how to produce and mix.”
He's part of 88rising
88rising was started by Sean Miyashiro as a way to promote Asian artists in America. Brian is on 88rising with NIKI, Keith Ape and Joji, and Miyashiro describes it as a "hybrid management, record label, video production, and marketing company", and it's one of the most forward-thinking collection of artists in the game right now.
He's the first Asian musician to reach the top of the iTunes Hip-Hop charts
In 2018, Brian made history with the release of his debut album Amen. When it dropped, it reached number one on the iTunes Hip-Hop charts, making him the first Asian musician to ever achieve this.
A bunch of your favourite rappers think he's dope
Back in 2016, 88rising released this video of rappers like Ghostface Killah, Desiigner, Tory Lanez and more reacting to Brian's music. Unsurprisingly, the verdict was that he's dope - and we definitely agree with them on that one.
He's met the President of Indonesia
The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, has listened to Brian's track Kids, but Brian told Vice he doesn't know if he liked it. "I have no idea [laughs]. To this day, I still don’t [laughs]. Yeah...he was mildly bobbing his head, he didn't say anything. You know [laughs], he didn’t say anything. And you know, I'll never find out, and that’s totally fine."
He's got dreams of being an actor
Brian's already an established rapper, but that's not the only creative outlet he wants to pursue. Speaking to XXL before the release of his debut album Amen, he says he wants to take some acting lessons, and inspire those that look up to him. "I want to take acting classes and get into acting. I want to make an impact and inspire people my age or younger, to let them know that this shit is really possible."
bonus fact: he's insanely fast with a rubik's cube
Is there a harder flex than finishing a Rubik's Cube in record time while on stage performing? The dude has literally competed internationally in Rubik's Cube competitions and can solve one in about 20 seconds. Before people even made the stereotypical "Asian nerd" joke about him, he'd beaten you to the punchline.
what REALLY goes down in these shows... pic.twitter.com/9K29krite8
— Rich Brian (@richbrian) October 22, 2019