Influences of Rich Brian + [Playlist]

rich brian influences

We dug through every interview Brian has ever given to discover his biggest inspirations and influences, then spent hours making the ultimate Rich Brian Playlist of Influences in celebration of his record-breaking album, “Amen”.


Who is Rich Brian?

Brian Imanuel, aka “Rich Brian”, is one of the most controversial artists in hip hop today.

When it comes to Rich Brian, people seem to fall into one of three categories:

  • “Rich Brian is a meme who is unethically profiting off hip hop culture”
  • “Rich Brian is an exciting up-and-coming rapper/producer with a long career ahead of him”
  • “What is a Rich Brian?”
influences of rich brian
Brian Imanuel

Regardless of which category you call home, the rise of Rich Brian over the last year and a half has been one of the most curious in modern music. The meme-lord turned cultural icon got his start operating personal comedy/satire channels on Vine, Twitter, and YouTube. Known for his dry humor, penchant for the controversial, and his awkward personality, Brian gathered a sizeable online audience while being home-schooled by his parents in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Over time Brian’s humor drew a sizable audience, giving  him a platform from which to launch into the hip hop industry. Then Brian dropped the video for “Dat $tick” seemingly out of nowhere in late 2016. The song blew up overnight – and although it definitely had a tongue-in-cheek approach with the video, the music was legitimately good.

From there, Brian embarked upon a meandering path of singles before making two big announcements around the turn of the year. First, he was changing his name from his original alias, Rich Chigga. Secondly, his debut album was on the horizon:


Rich Brian’s Massive Studio Debut

With such a limited discography, no one knew quite what to expect from Brian’s first real opportunity to fully flex his creative muscles in the studio. But within 24 hours, our questions were answered as Amen became the first ever album by an Asian artist to reach #1 on the iTunes Hip Hop Charts.

How did this teenager from Jakarta who, just a few years ago was teaching himself English by watching Youtube videos, top out the charts so quickly? The answer: with a lot of work and a little help from the hip hop icons that he calls his biggest influences.


rich brian musical influences
Rich Brian’s impressive debut means that the 18 year old can brush off the haters and let the numbers do the talking from now on

Rich Brian’s Music

As a rapper, Rich Brian showcases a smooth flow with a melodic deep voice that belies his youth. His lyricism isn’t lighting the world on fire, but it does do a good job communicating ideas and he has a knack for creating catchy hooks and pre-hooks.

As a producer, Rich Brian uses beautiful chords, well-mixed percussion, satisfyingly heavy bass lines, and quick tempos to provide a harmonic backdrop for his voice. His wandering melodies and laidback style give each song enough substance to enjoy even without the lyrics, while also being smooth enough to avoid distracting from the bars he puts on there.


Rich Brian’s Influences

Rich Brian has listed a narrow list of artists as influences for his music, which focuses especially on the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. From Brian’s mouth himself, his influences include:

  • Yung Lean
  • Young Thug
  • Tyler, the Creator
  • Childish Gambino
  • 2 Chainz

“I’ve been really influenced by Tyler, the Creator. I really like what he’s doing, when he mixes his music and his musical career with comedy. I really would like to do that in the future.” – Brian Imanuel with Vocativ


About the Playlist

The “Influences of: Rich Brian” has 16 songs in total, all of which are from one of Rich Brian’s five major musical influences. The first 14 songs of the playlist are ordered specifically to provide a song-by-song comparison to Amen, with each influencer song in the order of its counterpart from the album. The final 2 songs are “bonus” songs, intended to pair with two of Rich Brian’s biggest non-album hits, “Gospel” and “Dat $tick”.

Influencer songs are chosen for a variety of reasons including production, melody, and flow. For more information about why each influencer song was chosen or its Rich Brian counterpart, see the official Playlist Guide below the playlist!


Influences of: Rich Brian – the Playlist


Playlist guide

Findings
While creating this playlist, something became apparent. Although Brian cites many influences, his sound is definitely influenced the most by the music of Childish Gambino and Yung Lean. It’s true that he does borrow some inspiration from 2 Chainz and Young Thug for his flows, and from Tyler for his production. But overall, his voice, vocal style, and production has all the makings of a strangely catchy hybrid of Gambino and Lean, two flag bearers of alternative/indie hip hop.

Guide Table

InfluencerPlaylist SongRich Brian CounterpartNotes
Young Thug
young thug rich brian
"Real Love""Amen"
Yung Lean
yung lean rich brian
"Kyoto""Cold"
2 Chainz
2 chainz rich brian
"Where U Been?""Occupied"
Tyler, the Creator
tyler the creator flower boy album
"Where This Flower Blooms""Introvert" (feat. Joji)Pay special attention to the hooks.
2 Chainz
2 chainz rich brian
"LAND OF THE FREAKS""Attention" (feat. Offset)2 Chainz has a slower vibe in general but other than the tempo it’s really similar. Flows are similar and production is spot on.
Yung Lean
yung lean rich brian
"Muddy Sea""Glow Like Dat"Yung Lean will always be a bit slower but note the similar flows and nearly identical melody.
Childish Gambino
childish gambino rich brian
"II. Worldstar""Tresspass"Extremely similar melody in the production and they share a lot of flows.
Childish Gambino
childish gambino rich brian
"Retro [ROUGH]""Flight"Same melody and chord progression in the production.
Yung Lean
yung lean rich brian
"Ginseng Strip 2002""See Me"Take note of how Brian even recreates some of the sampled voice with his ad libs at the end of the hooks.
2 Chainz
2 chainz rich brian
"Feds Watching""Enemies"Picked this one for the flows. You can really hear 2 Chainz rhythms and flow in Brian's bars for this track.
Childish Gambino
childish gambino rich brian
"Bonfire""Kitty"Gambino's production is a bit more robust but how they ride each beat vocally is extremely similar.
Young Thug
young thug rich brian
"Cruise Ship""Little Prince" (feat. NIKI)Just about every flow RB uses in this song can be found in Cruise Ship.
Childish Gambino
childish gambino rich brian
"I.Crawl""Chaos"
Tyler, the Creator
tyler the creator flower boy album
"Glitter""Arizona" (feat. AUGUST 08)Honorable Mention:
"The Palisades" - Childish Gambino
Yung Lean
yung lean rich brian
"Hoover""Gospel" (feat. Keith Ape, XXXTENTACION)
Tyler, the Creator
tyler the creator flower boy album
"Who Dat Boy""Dat $tick"

rich brian biggest influences


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About Carter Scott

Hey, I'm Carter. I live in Atlanta, GA and love key lime pie. Some of my favorite artists are Frank Ocean, Anderson .Paak, Future, Vulfpeck, Kanye West, and Gorillaz. When I get into an artist I love learning absolutely everything I can about them and sharing it with others in engaging ways. Currently accepting donations for my ticket to Rolling Loud 2019.

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