Creeping towards the limelight with the release of carefully rationed singles 'Dat $tick' and 'Who That Be' Brian Imanuel aka Rich Brian grew quick success seemingly overnight, attracting fans with his humoured self-awareness and meme-rap status, yet the release of his first full-length project Amen confirms himself as the real deal, cementing his place as a bonafide rapper and producer.
'Occupied' continues Brian's trend of stone cold flow across twinkly production which he fits into seamlessly, giving off the impression that he's been at it for years. His flow is confident but remains authentic and organic sounding which could potentially be one of the record's biggest strengths - everything feels very natural and effortless in an "I'm trying, but I don't want it to sound like I'm trying" kind of way, which Brian nails thanks to his deadpan delivery.
Amen being entirely self-produced by Imanuel is also a commendable effort, 'Glow Like Dat' has breezy, vibrant production and some of the record's more promising hook and chorus work which amazingly doesn't sound out of place next to the incredibly menacing 'Trespass' housing some of Brian's toughest lyrical bite.
Bars like "On your pill, everyday I just be sippin' Chamomile" paint Brian as an everyman, having grown up homeschooled with Indonesian parents, he's not trying to build himself up as someone he's not; prattling on about his drug of choice or any of his preferred materialistic nuances. For the most part, he succeeds in this regard but undoubtedly the album's best cuts are the ones where he puts himself under the microscope and exhibits himself.
'Glow Like Dat' and 'See Me' put the pressure on Brian to spit some vulnerabilities, but comparatively tracks like 'Flight' and 'Introvert' feel a little too vague and flat to feel relatable. It's not that they don't feel fleshed out per se, but potentially underdeveloped, and regrettably Joji's feature on the latter kind of just meanders, not really elevating the track to its highest potential.
Thankfully, the tracklist isn't saturated with features as Brian goes it alone for most of the record, but NIKI's appearance on 'Little Prince' gives the song a nice romantic angle, and there's a certain innocence or naivety in her lines that lend the track a sense of childlike infatuation.
Rich Brian's solo debut is a tight-knit collection of tracks that reek of promise for a fruitful career and his recent name change a symbol that he's not playing around anymore. A slew of inspired production and some strong bars and flow make Amen a solid release and an even more impressive debut, and while a few lesser tracks keep it from a higher status, Rich Brian has come into the rap scene swinging.
Dre’s Top Three:
- Glow Like Dat
- Little Prince (feat. NIKI)