Review Summary: can I get an
Sometimes it’s really unfortunate to be so reliant on others, a problem many people like myself face everyday. While I’m often able to form my own opinions about music, I start doubting these impressions when the line between objectively good
music and entertaining humour-based pop is literally abandoned. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to ask my friends, “but wait, do you guys actually think this is good"...” yet have held back due to insecurities while ‘Betrayed’ plays in the background. Take Lil Pump, for example, an artist that thrives on the clip-heavy trap production, yet someone that has amassed a baffling following since ‘Gucci Gang’ has hit the airwaves. Such a mindset has plagued the entire rap world due to popularization and over-saturation of the DIY trap scene, a genre as easy to replicate as it is to spell.
So what’s the purpose of a music reviewer for an album like Amen
" While Rich Brian definitely has some talent, it’s clear his rise to fame is as rooted in the meme culture as it is in the legitimized trap genre. I mean, who can resist a Jakarta born, at-the-time 16 year old wearing a fanny pack whilst rapping like the $uicideboy$" While I’m all for the melding of the comically savvy and party-bass beats, it makes my job reviewing this that much more difficult. My first instinct is to compliment Rich Brian on the production throughout this record, as the now 18 year old took up the challenge of constructing all of the beats himself. Single and clear standout ‘Glow Like Dat’ makes the critic in me beam with pride; a track composed with fluttering delicacy as the arpeggio-harp breezes throughout the pop-trap structure. It’s a song that’s clearly well-done with little room to write-off as “just a meme”, justifying its popularity and giving me a dash of hope for those that deem it so. These gems aren’t just found within Spotify’s top 5 popular tracks, however, making ‘Chaos’ an instant favorite that gives me a false sense of individuality for choosing such an “obscure” track (not really). It’s a beat that quickly snatches the cleanliness of a Metro Boomin endeavor before instantly mangling the melody into a syrup-drenched, moody adventure. Yet, it still retains the fervor and electricity of the persona he’s built-up thus far.
At 14 songs, however, many will question how many are simply trials at recreating the hype surrounding his first successful hit. This is the point of the review where I’m sure many readers would be ecstatic if I told them every song on here is simply an attempt at that. Offset-featured track ‘Attention’ is the most obvious cash grab and while many college-goers will bump this at their next intimate get together, the reviewer in me starts to get a bit cynical. It’s safe, sure, but a step backwards for an artist seemingly attempting to legitimize his identity, as the beat nonchalantly follows the pre-assembled tropes of the genre. And while I’m naturally a self-condemning person, I realize most would question why I’m looking for anything more than that. I guess it’s the Asian-influenced pentatonic melodies that peek their head in during the R&B based ‘Introvert’ that make me think this was made for more authentic reasons. Even ‘Cold’ advertises ever-so-slightly dissonant piano lines that would make any music theorist’s ears perk up. Plus, the rapping on here is actually clean as hell technique wise as he often emblazons naturally flowing triplet flows and intricate word play for a non-native speaker. While his rise to fame was subconsciously based in relatability (the idea that anyone
could do this too), the Rich Brian now would beg to differ.
While my attempt to apply the critical lens to Amen
may be a bit conceited, taking a step back from it all is necessary when listening to this. For some, this might strike that ugly balance between laughable and quality as it lives within that indefinite realm of music seen so often today. And honestly that’s okay, this was never meant to be a perfect album, nor was it meant to simply appease the fans looking for the next 2018 trap meme. It’s just that I appreciate his braveness in embracing the idea that people may not like you for the reasons you want them to, while at the same time attempting to give them another reason to maybe rethink why they do. Rich Brian has got everyone thinking with his debut LP, making it a surreal yet fitting introduction to the year of 2018.