The music video for RMR’s debut single, “Rascal,” went viral earlier this year, and in doing so, flashed across my timeline, my inbox, and damn near every one of my group chats.
How could it not?
The video features a gun-toting RMR (pronounced “rumor”) sporting a black ski mask and a Saint Laurent bulletproof vest, while crooning a reworked version of country group Rascal Flatts’ “Bless The Broken Road” about drug dealing instead of love. Its ridiculousness is balanced only by its excellency.
The video for “RASCAL” was tailor-made to set the internet on fire and it succeeded spectacularly. But the tides of the internet change fast. Would RMR be able to pull off virality twice?
On April 10, RMR dropped his second single, “DEALER,” which leaned further into rap/R&B hybrid territory. With it, RMR proved he could create a catchy and engaging song without gimmicks.
Shortly after delivering “DEALER,” RMR announced he’d signed to Warner Music Group. Today, he’s releasing Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art, his debut EP. In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no rewinds, pauses, or skips—a straight shot through followed by my gut reactions. Let’s go.
1. “WELFARE” feat. Westside Gunn
Is that Westside Gunn???? I didn’t expect this team up but it makes sense. The gun noises against the shimmering guitar and piano are overwhelming but I’m loving it. And here come the drums. RMR came out the gate at 65 MPH. He’s recounting his come-up from his “Momma stuck on welfare” to flexing diamonds. The Fly God walked so RMR could fly. The production value is crazy for a debut EP. RMR is here to prove he’s got what it takes. A real statement. I’m in.
I wish he’d have saved the single for later in the tracklist but I get wanting to make a good impression. I once said this song sounds like Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” as reimagined by Future and I stand by it. The bounce is undeniable. RMR’s voice is gruff and gilded. The vocal runs are gorgeous. I need to see some credits because these tracks sound astounding. Immaculately mixed and immersive. “DEALER” is still a wild ride.
3. “NOUVEAU RICHE”
A sole guitar lick with some reverb. Okay, where’s this going? DAMN, the drums just kicked my chest in. “Spending like it grow on trees / Niggas out here coppin’ pleas.” His voice pushes every word straight into your heart. This is the definition of a vibe; the kind you’d catch while buzzed at a club with overpriced bottle service. “NOUVEAU RICHE” sounds like new money.
4. “I’M NOT OVER YOU”
We’re moving from guitar to banjo. RMR isn’t afraid to lean into country. Even with these bludgeoning drums, I had to make sure I didn’t accidentally press play on a new-age folk song. The lovelorn lyrics, the acoustic instruments, the hook? This might as well be Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Metro Boomin. “I’M NOT OVER YOU” caught me off-guard, even by RMR’s standards. All I can see in my head is a concert venue full of kids in Supreme and Bape singing like the world’s most dripped-out church choir. I’m into this.
Synths and echos to start. RMR lathered on the Auto-Tune and vocal layering. Is he singing about a queen going out for a party? I’m not really following what’s happening but it sounds nice. RMR is singing over music more suited for Gregorian chants or one of The Weeknd’s more ambitious songs. An interesting direction but “SILENCE” didn’t leave much of an impression.
6. “BEST FRIEND”
These watery textures are refreshing. Sounds like a cross between Baby Keem and Syd from The Internet’s solo work. Wow, the R&B jumped out. I like this hook. RMR’s voice is unique. It’s gruff but capable of blending in with just about anything. Off-White references hit different now. Shout out Virgil “50” Abloh. So... cocaine is his best friend? I want better for RMR. “BEST FRIEND” is so breezy and lush. It sounds like it was recorded on water, if such a thing were possible.
7. “DEALER” feat. Future & Lil Baby
Earlier, I wrote that the original version sounds like a Future song, and yet RMR isn’t being overshadowed by his guest appearance on the remix. A crazy claim to hold on to on your first project. Here comes Baby. “They throwin’ dirt with no shovel.” Is it too much to ask for a whole slew of “Dealer” remixes like Lil Nas X did with “Old Town Road?”
Just imagine me having a three-minute karaoke session. Fuck the boys in blue.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts On RMR’s Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art
RMR has come to prove himself on his debut offering. While the initial shock of “RASCAL” may have worn off, the artist makes clear he’s no one-hit wonder. Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art is an effective sample platter of all the ways RMR seems fit to tweak his trademark country/rap/R&B fusion.
“I’M NOT OVER YOU” finds the throughline between bluegrass, country, folk, R&B, and rap to disarming effect. This experiment plays out better than “SILENCE,” which feels like an attempt to find the middle ground between airy R&B and madrigal choir arrangements, but doesn’t completely gel. Thankfully, “SILENCE” is an outlier on an otherwise breezy and refreshing trip through RMR’s world.
RMR hasn’t yet done enough to distinguish himself from the pack lyrically, but his knack for experimentation should be commended. In a world where genre-blending has become second nature, Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art is RMR’s first step toward carving out his niche. It’s hard to say where this road will lead, but I’m willing to stick around for the long haul.