No artist has ever blended hip-hop with country music as organically and addictively as RVSHVD. Ever since he went viral with a country cover of rapper Roddy Rich's "Ballin'" — a cover so inventive and rich that listeners have mistaken it for an original and streamed it over 25 million times — the up-and-coming singer-songwriter has been finding new ways to blend his biggest influences into one compelling, distinctive and effortlessly fun sound. Now signed with The Penthouse South/Sumerian Records, RVSHVD has built a following of 1.3 million fans on TikTok and skyrocketed past 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify — proof of his unique ability to remain rooted in country's most important truths and traditions while pushing its limits.
RVSHVD (pronounced Ra-shad) doesn't have to work hard for his country bona fides, because he was born into them — specifically, in the tiny town of Willacoochee, Georgia (pop. 1,391), where he grew up about an hour north of the Florida state line. "As soon as you come in, you come out," he quips. "We ain't even got a red light, because they said we ain't had enough brakes for a red light." There, his mom worked in the school cafeteria while his dad worked odd jobs like pressure washing houses or scrapping cars, often recruiting RVSHVD to help out. "When I worked with my dad, all he played was country music," he says.
"Sweet Thing" by Keith Urban, heard during one of those workdays, sparked RVSHVD's interest in the genre. He started listening to Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan and then began digging in country's crates — all while he was recording early hip-hop and R&B experiments on his first MP3 player after school. Then came RVSHVD's a-ha moment: he could create basic country tracks to sing over just as easily as he could rap and R&B ones and the result felt exponentially more personal and authentic. He'd never thought that he could be a country singer — "I guess because I didn't see many people like me doing it," as he put it — but from the moment he first tested twangier waters, the music came effortlessly. "I was trying to do pop, rap, and R&B but that wasn't me," he says. "I feel more comfortable doing country because it's how I grew up. Country is all I know."
"Hit Different," released earlier this year, captures some of that journey. "What, you've never seen a Black dude boot scoot?" RVSHVD asks on the danceable song, which blends southern rock guitar with a trap-tinged backbeat and, of course, RVSHVD's impressive gift for hooks. The result is a sharp declaration of purpose, one grounded in a country community that is both very real and woefully underrepresented. It is that community — the diverse, rural, working-class one that he grew up in — that RVSHVD gives a voice with his music. "It's country, but it's gonna sound different coming through the lens of this poor Black boy from Willacocchee," as he puts it.
RVSHVD has faced his fair share of skepticism within the predominantly white genre, but that hasn't slowed him down, because he knows the truth in his music, and his experience. As his star keeps rising, through his upcoming tour alongside Willie Jones and appearances at CMA Fest as well as cosigns from peers like Mickey Guyton ("He has a cool perspective of country that I think people would really love to hear," as she put it on Good Morning America), he knows that his music and his work couldn't be for a better purpose.
Like at a concert recently, when he was approached after his set by a woman and her young son. "When you got on stage, he said, 'Mommy, he looks just like me!'" she told RVSHVD. "That's gonna stick with me," RVSHVD says now. "That's one of the reasons I do it, so kids like him can see somebody like them doing the stuff that they want to do." That purpose and his incredible, creative ear form the core of one of Nashville's most promising talents.