Who is RMR? The country-trap ‘Rascal’ responsible for this year’s ‘Old Town Road’

Everything we know about the hottest viral hit around

2018 was the year of Walmart Yodel Kid. 2019 was, quite indisputably, the year of ‘Old Town Road’. And in 2020, the ‘Yeehaw’ wave shows no signs of letting up. Step forward RMR, a mystery-shrouded new country-trap star-in-the-making who has just released ‘Rascal’, a song as sublime as it is ridiculous.

Here’s everything you need to know about the artist behind this new viral hit.

What’s ‘Rascal’, then?

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‘Rascal’ dropped seemingly out of nowhere last week and instantly started flooding our timelines. A crooner-trap belter that sounds like Young Thug doing Keith Urban, it comes with a quite astounding video – who even knew that Saint Laurent made bulletproof vests? – that works as the ultimate bait-and-switch defiance of expectations. A mysterious balaclava-clad man sings with world-weariness and pathos while waving around his firearms collection. Is it meant as a joke? Is it serious? Who even cares – it’s brilliant.

So far, it’s racked up over 700k views on YouTube , and has been dubbed “one of the best songs of 2020” so far, as well as “your new obsession” and a “transfixing country trap ballad” that’s worthy of being played at weddings. It has left some listeners quite literally speechless. Expect it to blow up even further in the coming days.

It’s set to a stripped-back piano rendition of ‘Bless The Broken Road’ by Ohio country crew Rascal Flatts, a song that gained recent viral traction after being covered by a bin man on American Idol.

Why all the hype?

RMR’s version opens with a show-stopping a capella of another of Rascal Flatts’ hits, ‘These Days’, before launching into RMR’s mesmerising autotuned croon. ‘Rascal’ is part rags-to-riches tale (“I came up and so could you”), part lonesome lament (“Show me a better way/Promise I’ll quit this game”), part straight-up brag (“Now I’m flexin’ in a Wraith/They hatin’ on me too”) while also delivering some very Insta-captionable lines (“Bitches that broke my heart/They became hoes I scam” ).

Channeling that true outlaw spirit, the track builds to a singalong that’s basically an almighty middle-finger to the cops: “Fuck the boys in blue/Fuck ’em all”. So while the comparisons to Lil Nas X are inevitable, we probably shouldn’t expect RMR to be performing the viral smash on Ellen any time soon.

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The video was directed by Gabe Hostetler, who has produced promos for the likes of Afro B, Gunna and more, while Grammy-winning hip-hop producers J.U.S.T.I.C.E League appear to have played some role in the track too (one of RMR’s earliest followers on Twitter, they recently tweeted “You’re welcome” in response to the song).

Remixer-extraordinaire Ryan Hemsworth has already dropped an adult contemporary take (or ‘Grocery Store Bootleg’, as he put it) and there’s a chopped and screwed rework too. All we’re missing now is the TikTok dance craze.

What do we know about RMR?

Not many concrete details are currently known about the elusive RMR. In fact, we don’t even really know if we pronounce his moniker as R.M.R or ‘Rumour’, although ‘Rascal’ is tied to a label called RMR Has It, suggesting the latter pronunciation.

RMR has said very little in the press – NME has reached out to the artist for an interview – but has told Fader that he is “22 years old and choosing to remain anonymous for now”.

“I grew up on country and rap music,” RMR told Fader, “and this song is the interpretation of what the new genre should sound like.” Other things we know about his musical tastes are that, according to his tweets, he seems to be a fan of both Drake and Avril Lavigne.

Since releasing ‘Rascal’, RMR has been spotted in the studio with Kanye producer Mike Dean (while singing along to Brad Paisley’s ‘Online’, no less) and pictured at Columbia Records (in an Instagram story, RMR jokes: “The first day and I already got a label meeting – who am I about to sign with? Who want RMR? You want RMR?”).

What’s next?

RMR has stated that ‘Rascal’ is taken from his forthcoming ‘Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art’ EP, which is due out sometime in the spring. He’s also said he’s set to release a Matchbox 20-inspired single imminently.

Then what? A Nickelback tribute album? A Dave Matthews Band collab? Anything is possible…

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