Every day this week NME is introducing one of its ones to watch acts for 2016. Today, meet Rat Boy – the Essex wideboy has his eyes firmly on Jamie T’s crown.

Why He’s Worthy:
When NME first met Rat Boy, aka Essex teenager Jordan Cardy (second right, above) he was uncharacteristically anxious. That night, back in May 2015, he was to play NME Radar’s hype-heavy Great Escape showcase, and the pressure was getting to him badly. “I’m really nervous,” he admitted, adding that he had nightmares about the gig. “It’s because it’s 18-plus and I think the older people might not get it.” Eight months on from that gig – a triumph, in fact, and one which saw Blur drummer Dave Rowntree one of many unequivocally won over – and things couldn’t be running smoother for 19-year-old Cardy. He’s skating that fine line of having the mainstream bowing down to him (Radio 1 are obsessed, and he’s also recently become mates with The 1975) but somehow he’s also remained coolly aloof. Him uploading brilliant demos to SoundCloud without even telling his management, for example, probably isn’t part of his marketing plan. Musically, he seems to have found his path now too, deviating from his scrappy early mixtapes to create a sound that nestles neatly at the place where early Arctic Monkeys and Jamie T meet. Basically, if you’re looking for someone to fill Slaves cartoon-punk shoes in 2016 then Cardy’s streets ahead of the competition.

Key Track:
2015 single ‘Sign On’ (above) is still his strongest, recalling Dizzee Rascal and Mike Skinner’s wideboy attitude but putting it to a long-lost Libertines riff.

2015 Prospects:
Cardy’s in a whole bunch of people’s tip lists right now, while next month he steps out on the road for the year’s most exciting tour, playing alongside Bloc Party, Drenge and Bugzy Malone on the NME Awards Tour 2016 with Austin, Texas. After that there’s a debut album in the works, not to mention graduating to his biggest stages yet across a whole host of UK festivals this summer. For a taste of what he’s like live, check this out – and see the NME dates below:

What He Says: Practically everything he posts on Twitter (@Ratboy) is gold. Our favourite moments include videos of him riding a moped around the stage, repeated drunken covers of ‘Hotline Bling’ and the almost daily offer of free tickets to his shows. He’s a nice guy like that, you see.

Alongside Rat Boy, the NME Awards Tour with Austin, Texas features Bloc Party, Drenge and Bugzy Malone. The dates are as follows:

Cardiff, Great Hall (January 29)
Southampton, O2 Guildhall (January 30)
Bristol, O2 Academy (February 1)
Nottingham, Rock City (February 2)
Newcastle, O2 Academy (February 4)
Glasgow, Barrowland (February 5)
Manchester, Academy (February 6)
Leeds, O2 Academy (February 8)
Cambridge, Corn Exchange (February 9)
London, O2 Academy Brixton (February 11)
Birmingham, O2 Academy (February 12)

To check the availability of NME Awards Tour with Austin Texas tickets and get all the latest listings, head to NME.COM/tickets.