4Batz & Drake: “Act II: Date @ 8 (Remix)”

TikTok and celebrities, two entities known for their very earnest taste, have crowned our newest algorithm-made R&B star: 4batz. It’s as if someone pulled out a spreadsheet and said what the world needs right now is Brent Faiyaz but less cool, PND but less writerly, and Tim Vocals but with no sense of humor. In December, the Dallas-based singer went mega-viral with the music video for “act ii date @ 8,” which seemed to blow minds despite it being incredibly boring. Filmed as part of the largely rap-centered “From the Block” series, in the clip he’s in a black beater and ski mask, a small stack of money in his hand, while his hooded crew is lined up behind him, mean-mugging the camera.

Given the visuals, it seems like what is about to come out of his mouth is probably YoungBoy knockoff tough-talking or drill, but actually no…he sings. Very gently and emotionlessly about blowing stacks on his crush and with a pitch-altered effect that loses steam after about five seconds. It’s like a movie that’s entirely built around a twist that falls flat. Not to mention that I’ve seen this juxtaposition between sound and scene pulled off better and far more subtly before. Hello, Mustafa, Kelz, and Jim Legxacy.

For weeks you couldn’t scroll TikTok without coming across a reaction clip of streamers with their eyes bulging out of their face as if he was doing the magic tricks from The Prestige and not whisper-singing with zero personality. The A-list music stars have been gushing, too, including SZA, Kanye West, Timbaland, and now Drake, who is on the official remix. The Drake remix is what you would expect. He seems to be doing CLB over and over again, committing neither to all-out rapping or singing and lying on wax. He sing-raps, “The bodies that you caught before/They don’t/Make me mad or insecure,” like we don’t have damn-near fifteen years of evidence that says otherwise. At least he has more life than 4batz, who may or may not be getting trotted around like the boss from Weekend at Bernie’s. The lyrics tell us about a girl he’s so infatuated with that he will spend a bag on them: “Five hunnid for your fuckin’ hair/Two hunnid for your fuckin’ nails/You runnin’ out of shoes to wear/So I bought you another pair.” But I never feel like he’s under a spell or in a love-drunk trance, he’s just reading words, lacking the rawness of an unedited voice or the way so many rap stars have used vocal modifications to push romantic emotions to the brink. No love or lust or yearning, just a self-serious meme begging for your clicks.