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 There’s No Reason For This 4Batz Mixtape to Exist

“Undercooked” doesn’t even begin to describe the Dallas crooner’s debut u made me a st4r

The first thing we hear from the Dallas R&B singer 4Batz on his debut mixtape u made me a st4r is something of a defense. He’s here to tell us he’s just as surprised as we are of his rapid, meteoric ascent. This time last year, the 20-year-old musician hadn’t even uploaded any music online, and the project opens with a collection of voices from commentators ranging from Akademiks to Kai Cenat, all wondering who the hell this guy is. The twenty or so minutes of music that follows doesn’t offer much in terms of an explanation.

On the surface, u made me a st4r is a breakup record. 4batz, at the end of the album’s half-minute intro “umademeast4r.mp3,” mumbles sleepily that “heartbreak is a motherfucker,” and that in the blink of an eye, he went from being down bad to becoming one of the biggest artists in the world. Throughout the record, there are allusions to a toxic relationship that served as the impetus for his music. Like on “act v: there goes another vase” where 4Batz coos over a slow rolling vintage R&B melody about vases being thrown and exes being blocked. Conceptually it’s a familiar R&B position, and 4Batz does little to differentiate himself from anything that came before him.

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In fact, the ideas on the record have little time to breathe, with each track running at a maximum of two minutes. The result feels like the viral snippets that 4Batz rode to fame, namely “act ii: date @ 8,” which remains the most fully fleshed-out song on the 10-track project. The quick ascent of 4Batz on the heels of that song at the top of this year resulted in “Industry Plant” allegations that remain, unfortunately, the only compelling part of the story. 4Batz’ songwriting offers so little to grasp on to that the main focus of the music becomes the narrative universe built around it. Even the overall conceit, of mourning a lost love, feels wholly inauthentic. The track “act iii: on god?”  feels sleepy in the worst way, as the rudimentary lyrics land with the clumsy melody of a karaoke performance. “I can’t find no one / because you the one I love” 4Batz sings. Are we supposed to feel something? 

There is, nonetheless, something remarkably modern about 4Batz, a harbinger for a musical generation. The singer’s look and sound has its appeal, a kind of southern rap take on recent R&B crooners like Brent Faiyez. In a different time, he’d perhaps have debuted a cohesive three-song project that put forward a vision of an artist with potential. Unfortunately, those are not the times we live in. Instead, the 4Batz project ends with a Kanye West feature (not to mention Drake’s remix of  “act ii: date @ 8”). Viral fame moves quickly, and 4Batz seems to be a new kind of victim of success, thrust into a moment they’re ill-prepared for.

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