Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
Rich Brian has become the first Asian artist to have a no.1 album on the iTunes global hip-hop chart, and according to his label 88rising, the majors are wondering how they pulled it off. Brian Imanuel, formerly known as Rich Chigga (a name he now describes as “a mistake”), is an 18-year-old from Indonesia, but he’s signed to an independent label based in Brooklyn. He’s an example of a new generation of artists with a global outlook, sound and fanbase. He grew up on the internet, signing up to Twitter at age 11 and learning to rap from YouTube videos. His success demonstrates how the internet allows artists from anywhere in the world to take influence from the musical culture of their choice, with none of the geographical limitations of the past. Like his labelmate Joji, who I featured here last year, Rich Brian started out with humour content (such as viral single Dat $tick) before transitioning to a more serious music career. 88rising’s strategy is to promote their artists to the massive Chinese market by focusing on local social networks and streaming services, which other Western music companies are neglecting. Rich Brian is catching on in the US too – he recently performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden and has collaborated with Diplo, Skrillex and 21 Savage.