“Rich Chigga isn't me anymore,” says Brian Imanuel, the Indonesian rapper who, after rising through the viral ranks with the controversial moniker, changed his name to Rich Brian in January, ahead of the Feb. 2 release of his debut album, Amen.
“Being in the United States made me realize that I wanted to [make the] change,” says the 18-year-old, who moved from Jakarta to Los Angeles last July. “I wanted to go a certain way with my music, a certain direction. It just felt right.”
Brian’s original stage name was a better fit for his early, more troll-like incarnation. His internet hit “Dat $tick,” which peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart in 2016, was criticized for what some saw as a mockery of hip-hop culture. In its video (at 84 million YouTube views and counting), he is flanked by gun-toting associates while -pouring liquor on the ground and wearing a fanny pack -- and, most controversially, casually dropping the N-word.