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Asian Rapper Criss-Crosses a Country Defying Stereotypes

Rich ChiggaNew Orleans Saturday, Atlanta Monday, Jacksonville Tuesday-that’s part of the frenetic tour schedule of rapper Rich Chigga who’s still riding high from last year’s hit, Dat $tick.

71 million You Tube views later, the 18 year old is on a 28 city Come to My Party tour that launched October 8 in San Francisco and criss-crosses the country until he returns to California for a finale in Los Angeles November 21.

His current song Glow Like Dat is getting radio play. The Miami New Times reports he was raised in Jakarta to Chinese Indonesian parents and learned English by watching You Tube videos.

“I just realized I preferred speaking English, because you can say a lot more in English than you can in Indonesian,” he explained to Time in 2016. “I was doing stupid, goofy sh-t, but it was fun. And in my YouTube comments, people would be like, ‘Why is he speaking English?’”

Rich’s real name is Brian Imanuel. His stage name Chigga is just a few letters away from a volatile word in English and its something he regrets.

“I would definitely try to avoid saying it at all times,” he told the Fader, “but at the same time it’s like, this is something Tyler the Creator also said — he feels like it’s just a word, and if you take the power out of it, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Rich avoids the party scene often associated with people in the music industry, admitting he doesn’t even enjoy the night club scene.

“It’s rich kids and kids who are trying to look rich. It’s not about partying — it’s about showing people on Instagram that you went to the club.”

Rich admits he doesn’t fit into the nightclub scene, and by appearances, he may not even fit into the rap scene.

The skinny, pale teenager wears a pink polo, khaki shorts, and a fanny pack. That image is goofy alone, but when combined with Imanuel’s deep voice and lines such as “Every time I see a pig, I don’t hesitate to kill ’em,” it becomes a hilarious study in contrasts. One might even call it a knowing wink at Asian stereotypes. -Miami New Times

Despite his success, Rich doesn’t take himself too seriously. Perhaps that’s to be expected from someone who early in his career, considered himself a comedian.

“I don’t want to be all corny and call myself a f-cking artist, but at the same time I don’t want to say I’m exclusively a comedian,”he said to Time. “‘Dat $tick’ was the first song I tried to be serious on.” Then I thought, Wow, what if I really did this seriously? How dope would that be?”
(note from the editor: An earlier headline misidentified Rich as Asian American)
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