How 88rising Pushed Rich Brian From Meme To “Yellow” | Genius News

How 88rising Pushed Rich Brian From Meme To “Yellow” | Genius News

HILLARY: Chinese-Indonesian rapper Rich Brian
is an international star that began on Vine. And thanks to the Asian American label, 88Rising,
home to singer Niki, rappers the Higher Brothers, Internet comedian-turned-R&B star Joji and
more, he’s sailed from meme to mainstream. And it seems like they’re just getting started. SEAN MIYASHIRO: We’re rallying like a whole continent of people, showing them that anybody
can do anything. HILLARY: That’s Sean Miyashiro who co-founded 88rising with Jaeson Ma when it was called
CXSHXNLY, a music collective and management company. The first artists were rapper Okasian, electronic artist Josh Pan, battle rap veteran
Dumbfoundead, and Brian Puspos, a singer and choreographer for everyone from Justin Beiber
to BTS. But the company’s real ascension
started in 2015 with Korean rapper Keith Ape’s song, “It G Ma,” which means never forget
me. The breakout hit’s video featuring Keith
and his crew has racked up over 67 millions views to-date. HILLARY: But then, Keith was accused of cultural appropriation and biting OG Maco’s “U Guessed It,”
which dropped the year before. HILLARY:The pair later settled their differences and Maco is now credited on “It G Ma.” But the controversy only helped the
song get bigger. Dumbfoundead told Sean about the saga, and
soon Keith joined 88rising too. They put together an “It G Ma” remix with
another viral music video featuring Dumbfoundead, Father, Waka Flocka Flame, and A$AP Ferg. HILLARY: Keith’s success helped 88rising secure their first influx of cash from investors. But the brand took on a whole new trajectory
with Brian Imanuel. Back in 2016, before he was called Rich Brian,
he was a 16-year-old Vine star from Jakarta, Indonesia who uploaded a video of himself
in a pink polo and a fanny pack, rapping under the name Rich Chigga. HILLARY: “Dat $tick” went viral, Dombfoundead
put Sean on and the teen quickly joined 88Rising’s team. As the track grew, people realized Chigga was a play on the combination of “chinese”
and “nigga.” It didn’t go well. Brian, who learned English from YouTube, seemed to finally understand the context of
the word long after the song dropped and vowed not to use it anymore–not even as his name. RICH BRIAN: I was like if I have a song that blows up and I’m this kid and I say the
n-word would people be like, ‘Holy shit, that kid is so cool and he said the N-word,
I’ll think I’ll let it slide.’ That’s what I was thinking. I was basically trying to make people kinda
feel less sensitive to the word and just taking the power out of that word. Then, I realized I’m totally not in a position
to do that, like I fucked up. So I just don’t say it anymore. HILLARY: An 88rising video featuring rappers like 21 Savage, Tory Lanez, and Desiigner
co-signing “Dat $tick” gave Brian even more momentum. And led to a remix featuring Ghostface Killah. HILLARY: It didn’t take long for Brian to
churn out more hits with 88rising. SEAN MIYASHIRO: I was like, “Okay, well why don’t we just make another song?” And it just then came, “Who That Be” and then “Glow Like Dat.” And now Brian is the great hope of Asia. HILLARY: Brian also picked up notable features from 21 Savage on “Crisis” and “Gospel”
featuring Keith Ape and XXXtentacion. HILLARY: In 2018, Rich Brian became the first Asian artist to reach #1 on the iTunes hip-hop charts with his debut album ‘Amen.’ But the road hasn’t always been easy. SEAN MIYASHIRO: When it comes to getting on the radio, when it comes to getting on these playlists, It’s been challenging. I’ll be straight-up. And it’s frustrating. I know our music is as good as 90 percent of the shit that’s on there, let’s be honest. So, it just is what it is. HILLARY: He toured across Asia and America
with 88rising. The company dropped their compilation album ‘Head In The Clouds,’ coinciding
with their music festival in Los Angeles the same year. Now, Brian’s showing off his growth on his sophomore album, ‘The Sailor,’
which features Joji, The RZA, and artist-producer Bekon, whose production is all over Kendrick
Lamar’s ‘Damn.’ The first single “Yellow” shocked
fans thanks to his singing and lyrics about coming to America at 17 to prove himself as
an artist. HILLARY: We talked to Brian about “Yellow” and
he had this to say: RICH BRIAN: I’ve never really touched on that topic before and I’ve never really talked about it. It really just felt like it was the right time. I’m thinking a lot more of making what I personally like. And I’ve always liked more melodic stuff but I’ve always been too scared to do it. HILLARY: Brian also compares his experience to fellow immigrant, 21 Savage, referencing
both his arrest by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents and Savage’s choice to
stop wearing jewelry. HILLARY: On Brian’s second single, “Kids,” he’s in full boom-bap rap-mode. He reminisces about his come up and the music
video reps his home country. He’s even played the song for the Indonesian
President. HILLARY: Brian dedicates the song’s bridge to Sean and 88rising for helping him. SEAN MIYASHIRO: When they hear that, everybody always like turns to me and they’re like … Like it’s like some emotional moment for everybody. But yeah, Brian, that was really nice of him to do that. HILLARY: He started his career making people
laugh, but his music has seriously grown. And now his songs and lyrics are inspiring
other young Asians and immigrants to achieve their dreams. RICH BRIAN: If I’d never signed with 88Rising, I feel like the huge difference would be, I’m still gonna be as determined I’m still gonna have the same dream but having so many people around me that have that same exact goal, it really makes me feel like I’m on the right track. HILLARY: I’m Hillary with Genius News, bringing you the meaning and the knowledge behind
the music. RICH BRIAN: My favorite lyric from the album? I’m tryna think. There’s a really raunchy one, ‘ Suck on her nipples like bon ape-tit. You can’t be too deep all the time!


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