Rich Chigga has undeniably shaken up the rap game this past year. Before that, he was going viral on social media platforms with his comedy – often endearingly awkward and dark – in the form of photoshopped images, YouTube videos and Vine clips (RIP)… and he only turned 18 just over a month ago.
2017 has seen the Los Angeles-based Indonesian comedian and rapper explode into mainstream consciousness, racking up millions of YouTube views and song streams, and befriending the likes of Post Malone IRL. If you haven’t been a Chigga stan since day one, his presence might be perplexing. Fear not, because we’ve charted Rich Chigga’s unlikely rise – from his beginnings in his native Indonesia to his current Los Angeles grind.
Chapter 1: Pre-Chigga
Born Brian Imanuel in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 2, 1999, Rich Chigga grew up with four siblings and was homeschooled. He began his social media career in 2010 at the age of 11, creating his Twitter account where he’d post photoshopped images, including one that made the rounds depicting him standing next to Obama, wearing a sweatshirt with the N-word on it.
He started making video clips that were often darkly comedic. Inspired by American comedy, Imanuel learned to speak English by watching YouTube videos and was introduced to rap music in 2012 by an American friend who showed him Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.”
He soon began exploring the genre, discovering the likes of Childish Gambino, 2 Chainz, Tyler, The Creator, Drake, Kanye West, and Logic. In 2013, the created his Vine account, where his clips would often receive hundreds of thousands of loops. Soon after, he began posting videos on YouTube.
Originally aspiring to work as a freelance cinematographer in Los Angeles, one of his earliest YouTube videos was “Suicide Hotline,” where he plays a married man wanting to commit suicide.
Chapter 2: The Conception of Chigga
He recorded his first rap track in 2014, spitting bars into an iPhone microphone over an already-produced MF Doom instrumental. Imanuel needed a rap name, and according to an interview with The FADER, his friend suggested he pick “the most controversial shit ever.” And thus, Rich Chigga was born.
In July 2015, he released the DJ Smokey-produced “Living the Dream” via YouTube. His first official single “Dat $tick” dropped in February 2016, and went viral thanks in part to a reaction video featuring rappers 21 Savage, Tory Lanez, MadeinTYO, Desiigner and many more including Ghostface Killah, who liked the track so much he hopped on the official remix with a verse. “Dat $tick” soon peaked at number four on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and was certified Gold.
He released “Who That Be” in August 2016.
Then “Seventeen” which quickly racked up 1 million hits on YouTube and Soundcloud.
Chapter 3: 2017 – The Year of the Chigga
Rich Chigga embarked on his first US tour in April and May. He dropped “Gospel” with XXXTentacion in May, which currently has over 20 million views.
In August, he announced his first solo US tour called ‘Come To My Party,’ hitting up a slew of American cities from September through November. He also released “Glow Like Dat” the same month.
Chapter 4: The Future of Chigga
According to an interview with XXL, where he says he’s taking his rap career seriously, Rich Chigga is currently working on his debut album in Los Angeles. According to a Tweet from September, it looks like Lil Peep and $uicideboy$ might be featuring on the record.
For more hip-hop history, check out our complete chronicle of Gucci Mane’s legendary glo-up right here.
- Cover Image: Instagram / @brianimanuel