Rich Brian has big plans for the future. While the Indonesian rapper is just getting started in the world of hip-hop, having recently dropped his first album Amen over the winter, the 19-year-old star has hopes of making the transition to Hollywood like his idol Donald Glover or his pal Awkwafina. Ahead of his show with the rest of the 88 Rising crew at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston on Oct. 7, we chatted with Rich Brian about his big screen aspirations and more.
Rich Brian wants in on Crazy Rich Asians 2
You and the rest of the 88 Rising crew are coming to Boston this weekend. How’s the tour been so far?
Rich Brian: The tour has been amazing. We did like five shows I think so far. Everything’s been really smooth. It’s been tight. I can’t wait to go to Boston again. I love Boston.
What made you want to link up with 88 Rising?
Rich Brian: The first time I heard about 88, I met Sean [Miysahiro] first through Dumbfoundead, the rapper. Sean was managing Keith Ape and Dumbfoundead at the time, and I love both of them. 88 Rising wasn’t really formed yet. Sean was talking to me about the idea and what he wanted to do with it. Just knowing that he managed those two people I was like, wow, this is really cool and I want to be apart of it. I worked with him for year just through the Internet, and then I came to America for the first time and finally met everybody. Everybody is super f—king chill and it’s great.
Photo by Joao Retorta
Between 88 Rising, the growing popularity of BTS, Sandra Oh’s Emmy nomination and the box office success of Crazy Rich Asians, it seems like things are finally getting better for Asian artists. Is it exciting to see the world of entertainment embrace Asian performers?
Rich Brian: I’m very happy about it. It’s definitely not there yet, but seeing all this happening has blown me away. And it’s all happening so fast. I watched Crazy Rich Asians a couple weeks ago and I was like, “Holy s—t, this is really cool.” Awkwafina is there, who’s friends with me and Dumbfoundead. It’s amazing. My goal is to play in a movie, and to see that happening and to see Awkwafina killing it in Ocean’s 8, it’s just really nice to see people paving the way. It’s just great and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Even just Crazy Rich Asians alone and 88 Rising and stuff like that, it’s inspiring a lot of kids, people younger then us, basically telling them that it’s possible. I cannot wait to see what they come up with.
If they offered it to you, would you be down for a part in Crazy Rich Asians 2?
Rich Brian: I’m very down.
When it comes to rap, some critics say that non-black artists are committing “cultural appropriation” with their work in hip-hop. Where do you stand on that issue?
Rich Brian: This is what I always, I don’t really agree with the term “cultural appropriation” because I feel like it’s not really appropriating culture and running away with it and stealing it or whatever. Me personally, I’m from Indonesia and I grew up on the Internet basically, watching YouTube videos and listening to hip-hop when I was 11 and falling in love with it. That’s why I make the music that I make now because I think about all the stuff I listened to as a kid and being like, “Yo, that’s tight,” and being inspired by it. All it is is being inspired. I don’t think there’s a problem with that.
It’s been a tough year for hip-hop after the deaths of Xxxtentacion, Lil Peep and Mac Miller. What are your thoughts on these losses and the effects of fame?
Rich Brian: I don’t really have much to say about it. It’s just sad. It’s just an unfortunately situation. But I guess, in a way, it’s good that people are starting to realize that being famous or whatever, it can be a lot. Even me, I’m a pretty happy person but I have my bad days too. It’s not easy for anybody. People have to realize that there’s a whole world outside of this music thing that they have to remember. You have to stay in touch with friends, you have to stay in touch with your family and just make sure you still have a life outside of this whole thing.
You’ve cited Childish Gambino as a major influence and it’s clear that you want to branch out into other artistic mediums. What’s next for you?
Rich Brian: My thoughts on what I want to do in the future is always changing. It’s pretty crazy. Even a single song can just change everything. A single song can change my whole idea of what I want to do in the future. The one thing I’ve always wanted to do is be in a movie or to be in multiple movies. I’ve always loved being in front of the camera because I love attention.