RMR wants you to take him at face value. When asked about his signature black ski-mask with a gold cross, “Imperfect”, and his name (pronounced Rumor) embroidered in metallic gold Old English, he says, “I’m wearing this mask because the world wears a mask.” He’s from “The World.” His responses are often as vague as he wants his background to be. That murky and muddled origin story is part of his thoughtfulness though. During our interview he takes seconds-long pauses at a time for his responses, searching for the right words in an effort to not divulge too much.
With his two debut releases, “Rascal” and “DEALER,” the artist has carefully crafted and curated an image that has successfully led to legitimate intrigue and anticipation for his Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art EP, releasing later this month. “Rascal” carries over the momentum from Lil Nas X’s record-breaking, GRAMMY Award-winning “Old Town Road” and its audacity to bridge the gap between hip-hop and country music in a genuine, catchy way. On his first single, RMR boasted vocal chops more suited for Stagecoach than the streets.
The contradiction of his crew and the Rascal Flatts’ “Bless The Broken Road” cover was particularly notable at the 1:57 timestamp in a perfect mashup that could only happen in 2020. Later in the song, RMR opened up about past relationships, singing, “B*tches that broke my heart, they became h*es that scammed.” Even though the meme quality was readily apparent, what made “Rascal” a hit was its authenticity. It’s an anthem about the come-up with inspirational overtones.
RMR has spent time between Atlanta and Los Angeles, but his wide-spanning musical influences are more rooted in what his father would play during car rides and falling asleep to public access television shows than they are a particular regional affiliation. He told HYPEBEAST that he only started making music just days before his viral hit “Rascal” premiered on YouTube. The fact that he then recruited Atlanta hip-hop royalty Future and Lil Baby to hop on the “DEALER” Remix less than two months later is no small feat. Today he premieres the animated remix video featuring the superstars with HYPEBEAST.
There’s definitely some skepticism behind just how long RMR’s truly been in the industry thanks to his meteoric rise and Instagram posts featuring Timbaland and Mike Dean. Has he been ghost-writing for years? Is he an industry plant? These are the types of questions and prejudices circulating on the internet that have led to RMR wearing his signature ski-mask in the first place. He wants you to judge him on the merit of what hits your ears before the message reaches your eyes regardless of just how polished his music videos have been.
Ahead of the “DEALER” Remix video premiere, RMR joined HYPEBEAST for a revealing interview where he divulges just enough in regards to his inspirations, his future and whether or not he plans to take off that mask. Watch the video above and stream the hit single below. Be on the lookout for his Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art EP to release May 29 via CMNTY CULTURE and Warner Records.
HYPEBEAST: You’ve kept your identity a secret so far, but what can you tell HYPEBEAST about your early musical inspirations?
RMR: Michael Jackson, you know what I mean? Kanye, Keith Urban and Craig David.
The contrast of you covering Rascal Flatts in “Rascal” and the content of the music video pushed you to go viral earlier this year. When were you first introduced to country music?
I was introduced to country music around 13. I found it myself to be honest. It was playing on one of those public access television shows, and I just kept hearing it. I must have fallen asleep and it just kept going on and on and on. I guess that’s how I got hooked on it. My dad used to always play — who was it, Garth Brooks? He would always play him in the car and I thought it was wack but then later, when I got a little older, everything came back around and it was cool.
How about where you grew up? Did that have any impact on the type of music you were exposed to and ultimately influenced by?
I grew up in the world. You know what I’m saying? World music — everything. From country to blues, I just feel like anything that has emotion behind it, that has soul and that can move you — I love it. From hip-hop, R&B, rock, everything. I’m just a lover of good music at the end of the day.
How long have you been making music? When did the path toward being an artist full-time present itself as a viable option to you?
When did you first hear the record? When did you first hear “Rascal”? That’s how long I’ve been making music. When you first heard me, that’s when. “Rascal” dropped February 26 — yeah, that’s when I first started making music. That’s it.
You’re not saying that literally, though. Just in a figurative sense of you developing RMR as a project and wearing the mask?
I’m wearing this mask because the world wears a mask. Everybody wears a mask. You’re wearing a mask right now, Patrick. You’re interviewing me but at the same time this isn’t you when you go around your significant other or your family or your friends. Then you put on a different mask or maybe, hopefully, take the mask off. I’m a mirror for the world, you feel me? I’m what they’re looking at.
Is there something about people’s prejudices or preconceptions after the “Rascal” video that makes you want to continue to wear the mask then?
Yeah, of course. There’s always a preconceived notion in everything. I’m judgemental. I know that for a fact. If anyone would tell you that they’re not prejudiced, it’s a lie. That’s how we’ve been systematically conditioned to be as a society. Even if you go all the way to a rural area in China and I could take off this mask — me and you go there. Are you White, Patrick?
It’s me using the mask of my reporter voice isn’t it?
No, I don’t know, see? I’m already operating on the preconceived notion that I feel like you’re White already. You feel me? So you and I, we go to China and we meet an 89-year-old old man, right? And he probably lives somewhere in a rural area where he don’t even have a radio, don’t have a TV or nothing. We walk up to him both wearing the same thing, how do you think he’s gonna judge us? He probably hasn’t had any face-to-face contact with any Black people or any White people but automatically he’s already judging us on that. That’s just the world that we live in so that kind of explains the mask.
Is that something you’re trying to break down on your new project, whether it’s through being this genre-less artist that you’re striving to be or the content that you’re singing about?
Yeah, nothing’s safe.
What was your reaction to “Rascal”’s immediate viral success?
My reaction was like most people’s reactions. It blew up overnight and I thought that everyone would be kind of wowed by it. I feel like it was meant to happen. [The video] was just put out — there was no plan. I f*ck with the world’s reaction to it. I think it’s cool.
We talked about the mask and the image behind it. Then there’s the other focal point in your work and that’s just how polished these initial music videos have been. How important has crafting those productions been to you so far?
My art means a lot to me. I put the art first and the art will speak for itself. It takes a village to raise a child.
You’ve been dropping hints of working with some pretty major artists. How has working with Mike Dean and Timbaland been?
Shoutout Mike Dean. We just chilled. He was like, “Yeah come through to the studio.” We go over there, we drink wine. That’s all I do, is drink wine. He smoked and we were just going through some stuff. Mike’s music IQ is high so we were just bouncing ideas back and forth and what not. There will be something in the future though. For sure, for sure. Me and Timb, we cut records. We already got a few, you feel me? We might have a surprise for ya’ll real soon.
What kind of wine are you drinking these days? Any recommendations?
Anything white and dry.
In your initial “DEALER” video you are sipping some lean in the backseat and there’s major references to pills in the chorus, so why’d you choose to depict that on camera when it differs from your personal life?
The world. In the visual itself, I’m an addict. I’m speaking to people who are leaders but they’re addicted and they’re acting like followers. I could be speaking on me, I could be speaking on someone who you know. It’s about compromising your health — compromising a lot of things by having your vice that you’re overindulging, whether it’s on drugs or on something that’s just bad for you. I’m speaking to those not handling their business anymore.
There’s a pretty stark contrast between your first two singles. You switch pretty seamlessly from country to more traditional hip-hop with this standout sitar sample. What do you look for in an instrumental?
Anything that moves me. You can bring something from Russia. Something from South Africa. Paraguay. I don’t care. If it moves me, I’m gonna do something with it. I’m gonna write on the spot. If it’s good music, that’s all that counts.
What else can you tell us about Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art?
There will be a lot of different sounds on there, but it will all correlate. It’s gonna be a lot of what you’ll see from me in the future. With this first project, I’m putting it out to kind of understand not exactly what I’ll be in the future but what you’re gonna hear in the future as I grow as an artist.