For most, multiple attempts at failing to start a pop-punk band and an unflattering childhood nickname would simply be the ingredients of late-night reminiscing over a few drinks, but for RAT BOY, it was the start of indie stardom. RAT BOY is the project of U.K. native Jordan Cardy who ran with his unfavorable childhood nickname and turned himself into a one-man band out of his bedroom in Essex. A seeming master of all things DIY, RAT BOY single-handedly recorded a 23-minute mixtape that blended all things hip-hop, reggae, punk rock, and odd vocal samples, which would go on to catch him the attention of Parlophone Records.
Despite having yet to release a full-length release, RAT BOY has garnered admirable buzz and a devoted following, in addition to landing himself on BBC’s Sound of 2016 longlist, MTV’s Brand New for 2016 shortlist, and scoring a Best New Artist award from NME. Listening to RAT BOY, it is rather easy to see why acclaim seems to have come so rapidly and suddenly, and why there is such hype surrounding his long awaited debut album SCUM.
RAT BOY’s individual brand of sound is simultaneously nostalgic and refreshingly new. Infusing everything from punk rock guitars, catchy melodies, hip-hop style verses, out of place vocal samples, and recorded sounds of his daily life, RAT BOY crafts a sound that feels at time recognizable in parts but holistically like something that has not been quite conceptualized before. The way in which RAT BOY so easily makes use of all manners of varying musical elements and instrumentation allows him to evade easy categorization. Thus, comparing RAT BOY to a single artist seems wholly insufficient, as he manages to be simultaneously reminiscent of artists from a wide expanse of genres. From Beck, Blur, the Beastie Boys, The Clash, and a host of ‘90s hip-hop artists, RAT BOY seems to take the best from them all and make it his own. If all this wasn’t enough to convince you to take a listen, take it from the legend Kendrick Lamar himself, who sampled RAT BOY on the track “Lust” off his latest album DAMN.
Listen to RAT BOY below and keep an eye out for his expansive 25-track debut album, SCUM, due August 11: