Rich Brian Journeys On In “Yellow”

By: Patricia Kusumaningtyas |

The intro for Rich Brian’s new single, “Yellow,” leads us to believe that it’s going to be another piano-driven rap song with snare beats on top of it, until it’s not; the vocal melodies singing “How do I disappear without anybody knowing?” reminds us more of the vocal melodies of 60s and 70s prog—something closer to The Beatles’ “Because” rather than Kanye West’s “Runaway.” “Yellow” doesn’t feel like a Rich Brian song—we’re missing the usual trap beats and his signature low deadpan delivery. But what we get is something much, much more than the ordinary.

Instrumentally, the song is quite a departure from Brian’s other works. Especially since his last released song, “watch out!,” feature a more experimental soundscape that borders on the atonal—“Yellow” is a more melodic and orchestral tune, like it belongs on a more orchestral artist’s repertoire. Brian’s delivery is also different in this song. From his first viral single, he’s known to have a deep deadpan delivery, towards even the most exciting lyrics. Here, we see himself singing to the melodies; he operates on a higher pitch range as usual, even when rapping. It feels like he’s trying the most with his voice to make people hear what he’s saying—we hear an empathy, a sense of urgency that we don’t usually hear in his other songs.

However, Rich Brian shows that change is good for a reason. “Yellow” could be his most personal song to date. Brian himself has listed on his social media that he dedicated this song “for all the past generations of people, who were brave, who were dreamers of the dream, to leave something for a chance at something better.” This is evident even in the title, which brings back to mind a rework of Coldplay’s single of the same name for Crazy Rich Asians. “Don’t fight the feeling ‘cause I’m yellow,” Brian raps, bringing his heritage front and center to the song. With the violin orchestration near the end of the song, Brian makes a point to illustrate that his journey—and the journeys of millions of others just like him—isn’t just a mere hop to the other side of the pond; it’s a matter of life and death.

What does this mean for Rich Brian’s works moving forward? Honestly, I’m excited about what he has in store for his next album.

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