Rat Boy is the genre-blurring project of Essex native Jordan Cardy. After a few unsuccessful attempts at putting a pop-punk band together in his hometown of Chelmsford, Cardy turned himself into a one-man band, recording a shambling 23-minute mixtape that blended punk guitars and noisy samples with hip-hop, reggae, and plenty of cheeky attitude. Taking inspiration from artists like Jamie T., Blur, and the Streets, whose landmark 2002 debut, Original Pirate Material, was a favorite in the Cardy household, the young artist branded himself Rat Boy after his unflattering schoolyard nickname and, within a year of releasing The MixTape, he had signed on with Parlophone.
His first single for the label, “Sign On,” arrived in the summer of 2015. Buzz grew quickly, and by early 2016, Rat Boy had not only found himself on the BBC’s Sound of 2016 longlist and MTV’s Brand New for 2016 shortlist, but he’d also notched a Best New Artist award from NME. Coinciding with these accolades was the release of his second Parlophone single, “Move.” Several more singles and the Get Over It EP followed that year before Rat Boy’s debut album, Scum, dropped in mid-2017. Following the adventures of the titular character, it presents a skewed, satirical, hyper-real version of working-class life in contemporary Britain, while its somewhat more polished, less guitar-driven sound boasts the distinct influence of ’90s big beat.
In late 2018, he issued his second full-length, Internationally Unknown (Parlophone/Hellcat). Produced by Tim Armstrong (Rancid, the Transplants), the raucous collection combined a punk edge with a hip-hop heartbeat.