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4batz, And "Ghetto Angels"

“4batz”, the Dallas R&B singer has seemingly exploded out of nowhere with his song “ act ii: date @ 8”, coupled with his viral “On The Block” performance, which now has eclipsed 4  million views on YouTube. The track is a dreamy R&B ballad, with 4batz singing to his romantic interest ahead of their date night. What caught audiences off guard, however, is 4batz’s appearance matched with his voice. In his “On The Block” performance, we see 4batz in the street with a tank top and shiesty, flanked by other people wearing similar outfits. If you took a snapshot of any point in the video and showed it to people who have never heard the song, they would probably guess that it was another run-of-the-mill rap performance; and they would be so far from the correct guess. 4batz’s voice is jarring at first; when expecting a grimy rap, he strikes you with his high-pitched, smooth angelic voice, delivering catchy, romantic lines. This seemingly comical contrast between his look and voice catapulted the video and song to its virality, garnering millions of plays on Spotify. However, this reminded me of another similar artist we’ve seen employ this “gimmick”. 

Do you remember RMR? If you don't, I’ll recap. RMR is a rap artist who went viral in 2019/2020 when he released his “Rascal” video on Twitter and youtube. Just like 4batz, RMR is adorned by a ski mask, surrounded by others similarly dressed, some of who are even pointing guns at the camera. RMR then goes on to belt strong vocals in a country/pop manner, catching many by surprise. Some of the youtube comments refer to him as a “Ghetto Angel ''; I think this phrase perfectly describes the marketing/persona behind 4batz and RMR. In the digital age where attention is at a premium, how does one most effectively grab it? Well of course, by playing against stereotypes, as we have seen with 4batz and RMR. The more important question, however, is how do they hold on to it? RMR grabbed the audience's attention with Rascal, then released the more hip/hop track  “Dealer”, which got a remix with Future and Lil Baby appearances on his debut album “DRUG DEALING IS A LOST ART”. However, critics didn't take to this project so well; Stephen Kearse of Pitchfork wrote that there was “nothing fun, intriguing, or provocative about his music” and gave the album a rating of 3.3/10. Flash forward to 2024 and RMR has not released a project since and has seemingly dropped out of the rap/r&b zeitgeist. Should 4batz look to RMR’s trajectory for guidance on how to move forward correctly? The “Ghetto Angel” persona/gimmick can only last so long before audiences get bored. Once audiences know what to expect sonically from 4batz, can he continue to produce well-liked tracks? 

This is not to say that “date @ 8” isn't good; because it's a great record. I am more worried about what happens next. I want a solid project from him that expands the r&b and rap universe, but does he have the capability? 4batz has only released two tracks; his other track “Act i: stickerz “99”” features his artificially altered high pitch voice as well, over a beat you might hear on a Brent Faiyaz or sentimental Drake track (who, along with Kanye West, have both given 4batz a cosign). What we have heard so far is amazing; let's hope he continues this superstar trajectory and doesn't fall down to earth like other Ghetto Angels. 

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