RMR still holds the title for the biggest viral hit of 2020. He burst onto the scene out of nowhere with his Rascal Flatts cover “Rascal” that flipped the country group’s “Bless The Broken Road” for an anti-police anthem complete with a jarring music video. It was rightfully an instant success despite being taken down for copyright infringement multiple times, but one that many predicted would come and go as a one hit wonder. Those people were proven wrong.
Next, the ski-masked artist debuted “Dealer”, singing over a sitar sample while sipping codeine and ultimately getting buried in a shallow beach-side grave. He ditched the country-tinged twang from “Rascal,” instead opting for a more traditional hip-hop headspace. Then there were videos of him in the studio with Timbaland and Mike Dean. All of a sudden Future and Lil Baby were tapped for the official “Dealer” Remix. Echoes of industry plant and ghostwriter filled comment sections and reddit forums. But it ultimately didn’t matter then, and doesn’t matter now. RMR makes solid music that’s solely his. For the time being, the sound that he champions is singular. On his eight track debut Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art project, out today via CMNTY CULTURE/Warner Records, the musician displays the confidence and cohesion of an industry veteran (and he may just be one in the songwriting department). That’s a good thing. His 23-minute effort is brazenly original and an incredibly fun listen.
Back in May, HYPEBEAST hopped on the phone with RMR and he did his best to remain anonymous. He was quick to speak in platitudes, letting us know that he was “from the world” instead of a particular city and era. “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.” Perhaps the most revealing part of the interview was that he’s a frequent wine drinker and appreciates anything on the white and dry spectrum. Before every question there was at least a three second pause for thoughtful consideration. And that may be the point — everything that went into his debut was thoughtfully curated. “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.”
Maybe that’s why Griselda Records leader Westside Gunn was tapped for the first feature on “WELFARE” — for everything he’s done with his crew to painstakingly make them as authentic as their respective histories in Buffalo truly were. The Westside feature stands in stark contrast to the mainstream sensibilities and acceptance of his Future and Lil Baby co-signs.
“NOUVEA RICHE” is a true standout. The third track of the project was produced by ISM with electric guitar riffs looped, setting the tone for RMR’s verse about Ozark-level money laundering, upgrading his lifestyle and making mistakes, assuring listeners that he’s only human. “SILENCE” takes a hall of synths into hallucinogenic territory, Each song stands out as its own world and yet RMR manages to bring everything together through his ability to fit on each track, embedding his voice naturally. “BEST FRIEND,” co-written and produced by The Do Betters, may be the most traditionally trap offering on the project both in instrumentation and content. Mentions of Off-White™, Berkin bags and Louis Vuitton combine with too many trips to the bathroom due to drug dependency. It’s not necessarily off-putting, but does sound more fitting for PARTYNEXDOOR‘s catalog than for RMR’s.
After eight tracks, Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art will demand a few more listens. It’s an undeniably strong first offering from an artist that the world simply doesn’t know anything about. But what happens when that new luster fades and fans start demand something more personal from a musician as noticeably talented as RMR is? It’s going to be fun to find out. Stream RMR’s Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art below and revisit HYPEBEAST’s interview with the mysterious artist titled “RMR on the Endless Influences That Move the Man Behind the Mask.”
In more music updates, Atlanta rapper KEY! returned with his new project I Love You Say It Back.