Reviews

Rich Brian Releases Mature and Culturally Ambitious Album The Sailor

Indonesian rapper Rich Brian is back with his sophomore album The Sailor. It’s been a year since the 19-year-old star released his debut album Amen and a few years removed since his viral song “Dat $tick” catapulted him into fame.

This time around, the energy and motives from the rapper feel completely different. On The Sailor, the foundation is strong as he doesn’t forget his humble beginnings coming from his native Indonesia. His success story is one-of-a-kind and although he’s found success in America, his motives remain pure and simple. He’s still just a teenager that wants to express his art and hopes that it inspires other kids along the way.

On the titular first track, he discusses the pressures of being an artist.

“I’m feelin’ pressure from my job lately // I guess if I don’t drop a song today, // Then I’m just lazy,” he says.

The next track “Rapapapa” is a collaboration with RZA of Wu-Tang Clan. There’s an old-school hip-hop vibe on this track as Brian raps explicitly about sex. However, the song is smooth enough to let some of the awkward sexual lyricism slide. The outro contains a spoken word verse from RZA: “Keep shinin’, keep surprising and energizing the generation // Keep the 88rising, and rising and rising.”

The Wu-Tang member has nothing but praise for Brian and the impact he’s having on the culture: “Keep shining, keep surprising and energizing the generation // Keep the 88rising, and rising and rising.”

“Yellow” was the first single released from the album. It might not be so clear on the first listen that it’s actually him, but we soon realize soon who else other than Brian can sing about wanting to inspire other kids (especially those that come from backgrounds like his) to follow their dreams.

His latest single, “Kids,” is an empowering cultural anthem. The visual takes us back to his native Indonesia.

It only takes a few tracks in to notice things are a bit different this time around. Brian sings as much as he raps. And production on the album (primarily handled by Bekon and The Donuts) is laid-back and orchestral compared with the minimal trap beats he was using not too long ago.

A standout track is “Where Does the Time Ago,” featuring his 88rising labelmate Joji. The vocals from both artists are nicely blended together on the melodic track.

Early fan favorites include “Drive Safe,” “Slow Town Turbo,” and “100 degrees.”

Although this is only his second album, it’s his most ambitious project to date. It’s almost hard to believe this is the same person that released “Dat $tick.” It’s always worth noting when internet stars can build upon something so fleeting and turn that into a sustainable music career–à la Joji, Lil Nas X, and Mason Ramsey. Brian shows off a mature side to his album and is also still searching for his sound. On The Sailor, he proves that his artistic growth and journey is definitely something worth paying attention to.

Listen to The Sailor now:

Featured Image: 88rising

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