u made me a st4r (Apple Music Edition)

u made me a st4r (Apple Music Edition)

When Dallas native 4batz—real name Neko Bennett—walked up to the mic on the popular performance YouTube series From the Block in a black ski mask and a full set of gold grillz, with a double cup in hand and his crew in the background, he looked like he was about to spit raps about his trials and tribulations growing up in his neighborhood. Which is why many listeners were shocked when a gentle and pitched-up croon came out of his mouth instead. “For me to sing, it was different,” he tells Apple Music. “I didn’t think anybody was going to accept it, but at the time, I didn’t care. I took that shit the most dramatic way. I was on the block with my guys behind me, just doing my own thing, popping out, and really just having my own way. I embraced that to the core all the way.” The first time 4batz appeared on From the Block he performed his debut single “act i: stickerz ‘99,’” but it was when he returned to do the infectious and moody track “act ii: date @ 8” that he catapulted from underground artist to breakout star. The viral track earned him co-signs from SZA, Timbaland, and Drake, who appears on the remix. His ambitious debut mixtape u made me a st4r further mines his love of ’90s R&B and emotive storytelling, using pitched-up and slowed-down vocals to tell, over the course of eight “acts,” the personal story of a turbulent relationship gone wrong. On “act i: stickerz ‘99,’” 4batz uses a metaphor to illustrate unrequited yearning. “I felt delusional over a certain female, and I remember I was like, ‘Yo, I feel like this girl doesn’t want to be with me, but I still fly to see her. I’ll still be with her right now.’ And that’s how ‘Stickerz’ came about, because I was stuck to someone that wasn’t stuck to me,” he says. The project is bookended by that and “act viii: i hate to be alone,” which ruminates on finality and heartbreak. And if it all sounds a little too real, that’s because, for 4batz, it was. “All this, it’s actual things,” he says. “It’s not just something I just walked in the living room, came in the booth, and just made. This is real life.”

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