The Jakarta Post
Jakarta-born rapper Brian Immanuel, popularly known as Rich Chigga, during Day N Night festival. (Rich Chigga's official Instagram/File)
In a smart move, the Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP) on Saturday hosted the homecoming show for Indonesian rapper Rich Chigga, whose popularity as a musician has made waves around the world.
The superstar’s domination of the world through speakers and the internet came to fruition that night, as reflected in the fact that his set pulled the largest crowd that night in the 88 Rising showcase, which also featured several Asian acts, such as Joji, Keith Ape and the Higher Brothers.
Chigga’s performance at DWP was an immense improvement over when he played his first Indonesian festival set at We the Fest 2016, when his fame was just gaining traction. In that performance, his inexperience and nerves were visible and audible. But a year later, chiseled by the touring experience in his new home in the United States, the world saw a much improved musician.
The huge popularity of Rich Chigga, born as Brian Imanuel, and the entire 88 Rising crew, as seen by the massive turnout at DWP as well as sold-out shows in the US and the rest of the world, reinforces the fact that hip-hop is the dominant musical force today.
Rock music has become obsolete in this day and age, seen mainly as dinosaur music by the youth of today, who have grown up with the likes of Tyler, the Creator or Childish Gambino.
Rappers today, such as the ones who emerge from Soundcloud with colorful hair, unmixed beats and mumbled lyrics, attain largerthan-life public personas, just as rock stars have done in the past.
Chigga’s history as a comedian has helped him immensely in cultivating the humorous persona that contributed to the skyrocketing popularity of his music starting in 2016. His immense skill in using the internet and knowing what entertains people online is crucial to his success, and it feeds the quality of his music as well.
After being noticed and managed by Asian hip-hop label and management company 88 Rising, Chigga’s star only went up and up, eventually securing him the headline slot of his label’s showcase on Saturday.
As fellow 88 Rising member and excellent South Korean rapper Keith Ape was about to finish his set with “Gospel,” Chigga suddenly strutted out onto the stage to do his verse, to deafening applause from the hometown crowd. As a result, his 11:40 p.m. set started almost 20 minutes earlier than scheduled, rewarding the fans who had stayed at the LIVE ETC stage devotedly to patiently see his return to the Indonesian stage.
“Wow, you guys are crazy, seriously. Crazier than America, I’ll tell you that,” Chigga said during his set, referring to the enthusiasm of the Indonesian crowd at the indoor stage on the night’s most-packed set. The 18-year-old peppered his set with anecdotes about his success in the US and repeated references to his parents, whose support had been instrumental to his journey.
As his mother and father watched his performance from the stands high above, Chigga performed collaborative tracks such as “Bankroll,” alongside Diplo, Young Thug and Rich the Kid, and “Gospel,” which featured rappers XXXTentacion and Keith Ape, as the ultimate highlights of the night, as those songs clearly featured Chigga at his strongest.
The 30-minute set also saw him play his old releases, such as “Who Dat Be” and “Seventeen,” balanced out with the more popular recent tracks like “Glow Like Dat” and “Crisis.” His more recent tracks offer a glimpse into his continual progress and development as a rapper, and the crowd just absolutely loved it.
The 88 Rising tour continues beyond Jakarta with dates in the US, with Chigga also set to embark on his first European tour later in 2018 — an amazing feat for the singer, who is the younger brother of Indonesian singer and blogger Sonia Eryka.
It is refreshing to think that just two years ago, this young man was sitting in his home in the West Jakarta suburbs, dreaming of the life he’s living right now.