One artist who’s progression over the last few years has been super fun to watch is Rich Brian. He originally burst onto the music scene a few years ago with his viral banger ‘Dat $tick.’ This track was a meme banger that blew up on social media, and it launched Rich Brian into stardom as a 17-year-old Indonesian kid. Music labels all over the United States realized how much potential he had and tried to sign him as quickly as possible. Because Rich Brian was sort of pushed into stardom at such a young age, fans of his have kind of watched him grow up before their eyes. They have also been able to watch him progress as a musician for the last couple of years. Rich Brian has never been one to stick to one single genre or style of music, as he has experimented with all sorts of sounds over the last couple of years. He really caught a lot of people’s attention with his critically acclaimed album The Sailor, which came out in 2019. This album explored a variety of old and new Hip Hop sounds, and blended Hip Hop with Pop in a seamless way that only artists like Drake and Young Thug have been able to do. This leads us to today, the point in which I am reviewing his newest EP 1999. I do not think there was a ton of promotion leading up to this project, as I just heard about it a couple of weeks ago; I have to say I was very excited to listen to in when I did hear about it, though, as The Sailor was one of my favorite records from 2019. With that being said, here is my review of Rich Brian’s new EP 1999. Please let me know in the comments below what your favorite tracks are from this project, and let me know if you agree with my review down there as well!
It is apparent from the very start of this EP that Rich Brian is taking a much lighter and way more Pop-Music approach to this project than most of his music has been in the past. With the exception of the song ‘Bali,’ which was a single released in 2020 that is not actually on 1999, most of his music in the past has been sonically pretty heavy. He is typically known for deeper and more foreboding kinds of instrumentals and lyricism that makes you think, and has not been one to go for a glitzy, summery Pop sound. ‘Sometimes’ has a sweet and easy-going instrumental that reminds me a lot of the Pop-Rap that was popular in the early to mid-2010s; I could totally see an artist like Hoodie Allen, Kyle, or Chiddy Bang getting on this instrumental back in the day. The melody has a super cute and nice quality and sound to it that reminds me a lot of the background music in sunny areas of a Pokemon game. On ‘Sometimes’ Rich Brian talks about how he used to pretend to be someone that he is not so he could fit into the music industry, and how now he realizes how talented he is and that he can succeed at making any kind of music and art that he wants to. He is not restricted to just being a super tough and gritty Asian Trap rapper, and he knows that he can succeed in any field that he wants to. This song is sonically and lyrically kind of corny, but it is nice to hear this kind of sweet positivity once in a while when the playlist is on shuffle. The next song, ‘Don’t Care,’ has a similar attitude to the song that precedes it, but it sonically and lyrically has a bit more of an attitude and a punch to it. ‘Don’t Care’ is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs from the last few months; it is just so bouncy and catchy and fun, and lyrically it is so relatable as well. On ‘Don’t Care,’ Rich Brian is saying goodbye to all negative energy and all negative people in his life, making sure that he only gravitates towards positive people and situations from now on. ‘Don’t Care’ has a melody and beat that remind me a lot of the kind of music that Lil Yachty came up on and that Young Thug perfected. This instrumental reminds me a lot of classic Trap songs like ‘Minnesota’ by Yachty and ‘pick up the phone’ by Young Thug. If you like those kinds of instrumentals, you will definitely be into this song. Following this, we get the song ‘Long Run’ which I would say is probably closest to sounding like what one would expect to hear from Rich Brian. ‘Long Run’ has an introspective rap feeling to it where Rich Brian is rapping about his come up and how confident he has become in himself as a musician and rapper. He knows how talented he is and he has noticed how people have been changing around him the bigger he gets, and he wants to make sure he keeps the real people close and keeps the haters away. ‘Long Run’ has a melody that has a similar “elevator music” feeling to it that is similar to a lot of the melodies from his album The Sailor. These kinds of melodies make the listener focus on the lyricism and are very easy going and nice to listen to, and Rich Brian excels at rapping on melodies like this. If are into chill and introspective rap music that has really good uses of flow, ‘Long Run’ is a song you should download. Even though it has a really honest and nice message to it, ‘When You Come Home’ is the first song on the project that feels like a bit of a clunker to me. This track is about Rich Brian’s relationship with his parents, and how they have coped with being away from each other all of the time while Brian pursues his dreams. Rich Brian’s parents still live in Indonesia, and he does not get to see them as often as he wants to. In my opinion, the production on this song is just too soft and corny. It sort of sounds like a lullaby; it is like Rich Brian’s attempt at making acoustic Pop music similar to artists like Celine Dion. Sonically, this track just really doesn’t work for me, and I do not think I will be coming back to it.
Like a lot of artists in 2020, Rich Brian could not pass up the trend of making Funky Pop music that sounds like it came right out the 1980s. From Charli XCX to The Weeknd to Dua Lipa, Funk music influenced by the 80s has been very popular in 2020, and Rich Brian hopped right onto that trend with his song ‘DOA.’ ‘DOA’ is personally my favorite song on this project besides ‘Don’t Care.’ It reminds me a lot of songs like ‘Don’t Stop Now’ from Dua Lipa and ‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd; ‘DOA’ has a simple and repetitive riff is so catchy and groovy. This is the kind of song that will get stuck in your head very easily. On ‘DOA,’ Rich Brian is singing about how his relationship with someone he used to be close with has drastically changed now that he is famous. He claims that he has not changed and is just too busy now; it seems like Brian is really trying to push down his feelings of regret and let himself be happy with where he is at and who he has. The next track, ‘Love In My Pocket,’ is about exactly what one would expect a song with this title to be about. On ‘Love In My Pocket,’ Rick Brian is singing about going public with his girlfriend, as well as letting the world see him be emotional and vulnerable like this. He truly does not care what anyone thinks, because he is in love and love is all that he can see at this point. ‘Love In My Pocket’ is another song with a sound that is very reminiscent of Funk music from the 1980s. Whereas ‘DOA’ has a bit of a Futuristic Synth-Pop feeling to it, ‘Love In My Pocket’ has an instrumental that feels like it came straight from 1981. I could see artists like INXS or The Bee Gees killing it on a song with this melody and sound back in the day. Brian kills it with this sound as well; ‘Love In My Pocket’ has quickly become a fan favorite since it has been released. The album rounds out with the song ‘Sins,’ which may be the most unique and “experimental” song on this record. On this track, Rich Brian dives headfirst into Pop music, singing on a sweet guitar-driven instrumental that one would expect to hear Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande on. Speaking of Justin Bieber, Rich Brian really busts out the vocals on this track. I did not know Rich Brian could sing this way, and I have to say that I am impressed. If you are into cute and low key radio Pop music that is about falling in love, ‘Sins’ is a song that you should download.
Rich Brian is not an artist that anyone can put into a box. Ever since he burst onto the scene, he has been a chameleon with his music, constantly embracing new and more mature sounds and making sure he never stays complacent. 1999 is just another example of Rich Brian expanding his horizons and trying something new. Obviously, this project does not have the fluidity and structure that his last album had, as it is sort of just a random collection of tracks that are not all that similar to each other. But the music on 1999 does have a lot of quality, and it shows how much Rich Brian is still developing as an artist and finding himself. If you are a fan of Hip Hop and want to hear something fresh and different, I think there is a lot for you to enjoy on this EP.