After parlaying the success of his first insanely viral music video into a successful rap career living in the US over the last three years, 19-year-old Indonesian hip-hop artist Rich Brian finally returned to Indonesia where he got to meet one of his biggest fans in his homeland, Indonesia’s own social media savvy head of state, President Joko Widodo.
Yesterday, President Jokowi invited Rich Brian — real name Brian Imanuel Soewarno — to visit the Bogor Presidential Palace, where the young rapper was warmly received.
Brian was accompanied by his family — including his older sister, fashion blogger Sonia Eryka — and Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) head Triawan Munaf.
Before the meeting in the president’s office, Brian was treated to a tour around the Istana by Jokowi, including a visit to a shed where the Indonesia’s leader keeps his goats and lambs. That seemingly random stop on the tour was theorized by netizens to be a reference to Brian’s 2017 single Back At It, in which he posed for a photo with a goat from around his neighborhood for the single’s cover.
Jokowi also posted a photo of his meeting with Brian on his social media channels, praising him in the caption.
“Do you know Rich Brian — the rapper who became the first Asian artist to top the iTunes album chart for hip hop music? His real name is Brian Imanuel Soewarno. He really is a young man from Indonesia who makes us proud. Today, Brian, who’s included in the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30: 2018’, visited Istana Bogor. We were talking about Brian’s career, as well as the music industry in Indonesia,” Jokowi wrote.
Bekraf head Triawan said President Jokowi had invited Brian to the palace personally because of how successfully he had been internationally without any assistance.
“Brian symbolizes a young person who dares to explore the world with his own career. He left without being accompanied by his parents. Until now, his parents have never been [to the US]. So this is an inspiration for young people,” Triawan said as quoted by Detik.
Brian shot to fame with the viral hit Dat $tick in 2016, while he was using his original alias of Rich Chigga, and blew up even more after his hit received a remix and music video with legendary Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah (who declared him “dope”) and Miami rapper Pouya — all of which happened when he was just 16. He relocated to Los Angeles in mid-2017, embarking on his first US tour and joined American record label 88 Rising, opening him up to collaborations with artists such as labelmate Joji (of Filthy Frank and Pink Guy fame), 21 Savage, and controversial late rapper XXXTentacion, among others.
His Rich Chigga moniker was previously criticized for its negative racial connotations. From January 2018 onwards, he changed his stage name to Rich Brian, admitting that he was “naive” when he adopted the Rich Chigga moniker. Brian released his first full-length album, Amen, in February 2018, landing him on the top of the iTunes hip hop charts.
He recently released a single, Yellow, which shows his darker side and a more mature musical prowess. The music video was directed by Dave Meyers, the man behind Kendrick Lamar’s Humble, Ariana Grande’s No Tears Left to Cry, and Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy, among others. The single has been well-received, and Brian was even featured in a Spotify ad at New York City’s Times Square. Brian is currently preparing for his second album, titled The Sailor, which is scheduled to be out on July 26.