4Batz Explains How He Really Became a Viral Sensation

After exploding from a cloud of mystery, Dallas singer 4Batz goes deep on his life story and breaks down how he became one of 2024’s biggest new artists.

Ralph Canono

Who is 4Batz? Is he an industry plant? Why does he always wear a shiesty? Fans have been speculating about the budding 20-year-old star all year, trying to figure out what his origins are. So, who really is 4Batz?

Let’s start at the beginning. Batz, born Neko Bennett, was born in Dallas, Texas and comes from a family of singers. “My mama could sing, my pops could sing,” he tells Complex. “My grandma could sing. It's funny, my nanny actually dated Marvin Gaye. They were supposed to get married, but they said she cheated on him. So Marvin Gaye was supposed to be my grandfather.” 

4Batz only started singing a year ago. With a high-pitched chopped sound inspired by DJ Screw, he came out the gate hot with a viral From The Block performance of his first-ever song, “act i: stickerz 99,” and landed two more hits with “act ii: date @ 8,” and “act iii: on god?,” before getting Drake on the remix of “act ii.” This all happened within the last 11 months.

There was a simple formula behind his early appeal: He was a walking-talking juxtaposition of contrasting ideas—a yuck-mouthed youth wearing a shiesty and singing R&B love songs. The novelty of seeing a masked-up kid crooning through his sorrows is only scratching the surface of what makes 4Batz so interesting. Now, with his first mixtape, u made me a st4r, finally out, Batz is keeping the mask on, but revealing his story. 

“I never had shit in my life,” Batz explains. “I came from living in a church for four years. I came from sleeping on the floor for damn near all my life. I don't even remember the last time I lived in the house, I probably was like a baby. But my whole life, I was really staying with people. So for me to be here and to have the shit that I'm having, it is just crazy to me.”

So, is he an industry plant? 

“What the fuck is an industry plant?” he asks, with a laugh. “When I first seen that shit, I was like, ‘Damn, y'all want me getting money?’ [Laughs.] So niggas can't get plays? What happened to Black excellence? I'm just a nigga from the hood.” 

As the 20-year-old singer explains it, he got here off the strength of YouTube beats (every song on u made me a st4r is a YouTube “type beat”), a DIY studio set-up at his mom’s house, and a whole lotta pain. The mixtape's title is inspired by Batz’ ex, Jada, who broke his heart by cheating on him. He even named his upcoming tour, Thank You, Jada. 

“Every song on the project is about her,” he says. “Every last one of them. Every vocal, every lyric is about shorty. I'm thanking her, but I'm also thanking the people that are listening to it, because y'all made me a star as well.” 

4Batz has been through some shit—he’s suffered from depression, got kicked out of school, and last year, he lost his father. But he isn’t ashamed of what he’s been through. The most interesting thing about Batz isn’t his appearance or his past. It's how he knows himself at 20-years-old and embraces every dimensional of his artistic abilities. 

“When everybody comes around me, they’re like, ‘Yo, why it feels like you're 40?’” he says. “And the whole time I'm 20."

Complex talked with 4Batz about his new mixtape, u made me a st4r, being called an “industry plant,” his conversations with Ye and Drake, and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.

How have you been adjusting to this sudden shift of fame?
I really haven't, I really can't. A nigga like me, I never had shit in my life. I came from living in a church for four years. I came from sleeping on the floor for damn near all my life. I don't even remember the last time I lived in the house, I probably was like a baby. But my whole life, I was really staying with people. 

So for me to be here and to have the shit that I'm having, it is just crazy to me. So I don't adapt to it, I just see what's next. Maybe later when I get older and shit, get some gray hairs, I can be like, “Damn, I'm doing this shit,” but I'm so worried about what's next. 

What was it like growing up in Dallas?
Hard, but it was good though because my growing up in Dallas was a lot different from other people growing up in Dallas. We was always evicted. I always went to different schools, I can't even tell you how many schools I went to in Dallas because of situations that happened in my life. So me growing up in Dallas, as a child, I kind of hated it in a way, but it molded me to be who I am. 

That's why when everybody comes around me, they’re like, “Yo, why it feels like you're 40?” And the whole time I'm 20. I just graduated high school last year. I dropped out, but I still graduated. It wasn't the best growing up, but I learned from it. As you see, I don't move like no young nigga. I don't act like a young nigga

Is it true that you used to release music under the name Spidey?
No, that's my brother.

So your brother makes music, too. Who got who into music first?
Obviously, I did. [Laughs.] That’s my older brother. But that's funny as fuck you asked that because everybody thought that was me, I guess because bro sounds like me or whatever. I had got him into that. It's funny, we all started rapping and shit. We was rapping coming up, and I told myself I like, “Nah, I ain't going to never sing. I ain't doing none of that clown ass shit.” Look at me now. [Laughs]. Singing on the block.

Do you feel like music runs in the family? 
I think singing-wise, yeah. My mama could sing, my pops could sing. My grandma could sing. It's funny, my nanny actually dated Marvin Gaye. They were supposed to get married, but they said she cheated on him. So Marvin Gaye was supposed to be my grandfather.

Does that make you listen to Marvin Gaye’s music differently?
Hell yeah, I’m low-key mad at him. Every time he come on I be like, “Fuck that nigga.” [Laughs]. But nah, he's a GOAT man. They got pictures together, all types of shit. My mama the best singer though. She was the one that was at the church singing. 

When did you know that you could sing?
I had a lil za on the phone. I'm talking to her and I'm playing a game, and I'm humming the song. She was like, “Oh that sound good.” I’m like, “You like that?” Then after that, she was just like, “Let me find out you can sing.” I was like, “Shit, let me find out because I'll be on everybody ass.” 

I remember one time I was rapping and shit, and I tried to sing on it, and it sounded good. I just kept doing it and I was like, “You know what, let me hop on an R&B beat. Let me see what I can do.” If I'm good at rapping, imagine what I can do on this side. I feel like R&B is easier. 

What does 4Batz stand for?
So I'm from the 4 in Dallas. It's South Dallas. And I just got a nickname in the hood called Bats because I like fighting and shit.

When you first tried recording yourself in the studio, did you sing with your normal voice or did you always have it altered? 
Yeah, I kind of started [with it altered], and me being from Texas, I love DJ Screw and everybody like that, so I just want to keep their path going and touch the world and give these people something they never heard before, and really affect it. So that’s [why] I started slowing it down, chopping and screwing it, and shit like that. Obviously, people fuck with it, so I'm going to keep it going.

Do you ever see yourself experimenting with just your voice? 
I believe everything has eras. Everything has stages. I'm also a firm believer that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But who knows what I do down the line. But for right now, we’re just mastering this sound.

You said that the “downfalls of your life” inspired you to make music. What were those downfalls, and how did they push you to keep going?
I lost my pops last year. When he died, I just stopped giving a fuck about everything. I just stopped caring about how people felt. I stopped caring about how people saw me. At the time, I cared about how people looked at me because everybody addressed me as this bad kid. “You’re dropping out of high school, you're doing this, you hanging with these type of people.” So at the time, I was carrying, and when he died it was just like, “Alright, bro.” 

Then I had my girl at the time and she cheated on me. When I found out she cheated on me, I was in the middle of booking a flight [to see her]. I'm like, “Damn. You know what, fuck you. I'm going to blow the fuck up. I'm going to do this shit. I'mma be in interviews talking about you.” This was seven months last year. I'm thinking that shit was going to happen five years from now, but it happened a little sooner. When I found out she cheated on me, I was still emotional about my pops. So when that happened, I'm like, “You know what? Fuck you, I'm going to blow the fuck up. I'm going to do this shit. I'm going to move like this.” And then she was like, “You can do what you want to do. I ain't worried.” 

When I seen her act like she just didn't give a fuck, next thing I knew, I found out she popped out with her coworker. She popped out with a barber. I seen this nigga, I didn't think she cheated on me because I knew the nigga. One day, I was fucked up about her, and I had her Snapchat password. So I went on her Snapchat and I'm clicking her shit. And you know me, I'm real P, I don't even be doing shit like that. I'm too player. But at the same time, I cared about her. [Laughs]. I was fucked up. 

I looked through her Snapchat and I saw she's sending little photos back and forth to bro. But it’s a photo and words on that bitch. So when you click it, you see what he says and then it unsends. So I'm seeing that shit, and it's a photo of the street talking about, “All right, I'm going to see you tomorrow.” So I called bro. He was like, “Look, that's my friend. I got a girlfriend.” Listen, he got his Michael B. Jordan on. I'm not going to lie. That nigga need an Oscar because he got me.

That shit made me feel crazy because she was the only person I was really close to that I really let in. I was really vulnerable with her, so when I seen that shit, it took me to a level of depression that I ain't really felt before in a long time.

This is another part of my childhood, me being fucked up in the hood, I had a lot of shit going on where I used to drink lean and I used to do a lot of shit. They sent me out of school and put me on suicide watch. I was on that shit for 120 days. I've been through the feeling depressed and all this popping downers and shit. I've been through that shit. 

I was at a point where I was like, “Yo, what else can I do?” And I thought about it, I'm like, “Yo, I want to make music. I want to do this shit. I want to take this shit serious.” And I'm like, “What if I put all my shit in my music and just get in the fucking studio and talk about how much this girl was a bitch. But still make it sound good.” 

That's when “act i: stickerz ‘99’” came about. If you hear the song, I'm like, “I might just call and catch a plane. I might just come see you today.” On that part, I'm like, “I'm finna go catch a plane. I'm finna go see you because I know you with that nigga, but do you really want to be with that nigga?” 

I felt delusional about it and that's why I was like, “I'm finna fly and see you anyway.” Even though she might not want to see me, even though she might not want to be with me, I'm still going to go fly and see you anyway. That's how that song came about, and I named the stickers because I'm stuck to someone that it's not stuck to me. If you think of a sticker, if you stick a sticker to a wall, it's going to stick. It's going to stay there. But if you take it off the wall and put it back on the wall, you do that 40 times, no matter how hard you press it, it's not going to stick the same. And that's why I named it “stickerz.”

So now that you’ve blown up, have you reached back out to her to try and flex on your ex? Or has she reached out to you?
No, I ain't going to hold you, she makes me go harder because that bitch ain't say nothing to me. I’m like, “You don’t see I got a song with Drake?” [Laughs.]

She’s definitely winning the “I don’t give a fuck” war.
She told me, “I ain't worried about you, nigga.” I'm like, “Don't worry, you going to come back.” She's like, “I promise you I won't.” She hung up the phone. Now I'm looking like, “Okay.”

What was your reaction when you started hearing people call you an industry plant?
What the fuck is an industry plant? When I first seen that shit, I was like, “Damn, y'all want me getting money?” [Laughs.] So niggas can't get plays? What happened to Black excellence? I'm just a nigga from the hood. I ain't never had shit. I came up on the block, we didn't have shit and a nigga started getting plays, and it ain't like I'm talking about killing a nigga. I'm just singing about bitches and how I'm hurting. 

A nigga said I was AI. So I'm thinking the whole time they talking about basketball, I said, “I am like AI [Allen Iverson]!” But the whole time, nigga’s were talking about artificial intelligence? I'm like, “Nigga, do y'all want to come to the studio when I make it?” At this point, I might have a listening party at the studio, let's just record everything I just did over again. 

What do you think it is about you and your music that people are gravitating towards?
For one, I think it's a breath of fresh air to a lot of people. I think people tired of hearing the same shit. People tired of looking at the same shit. By the way, I'm sorry to tell y'all, all the other artists out here, they tired of y'all. Let's be honest. That's why I came in. You love me or hate me baby, we in this motherfucker. 

What made you first want to wear the shiesty in your videos?
We used to move around with shiestys anyway. That's like Dallas, you got to have that, especially if you into it. But I just want to take people to my world. I just wanted people to see me in my element and see me how I am because if you see pictures before I was even on, you was going to see me in the same fit with the same shiesty on. So I think that's what it was. 

It wasn't really an idea. It was really just like, why I got to have my shirt off and put baby oil my chest just to do what the fuck I do? When did people say there were rules to this shit? There ain't no rules to this shit. I want niggas to know that I'm going to be me regardless. I can't change and I won't change, and I'm going to make the type of music I want to make. And I dare nigga to try something.

The name of your debut mixtape is u made me a st4r. Who are you referring to? 
Come on gang. We've been talking about her the whole time. Y'all go get u made me a st4r if y'all ain't get it already, and also I’m going on tour right after this shit. It’s called Thank you, Jada. 

You’re crazy bro.
I think I am, but that's how I got here.

Are you going to send Jada tickets?
She getting front-row tickets. She can get VIP. I can get her ass on stage. I’d pay her ass to come to my show.

Are there any other tracks on the project that are about her?
Every song the project is about her. Every last one of them. Every vocal, every lyric is about shorty. I'm thanking her, but I'm also thanking the people that are listening to it, because y'all made me a star as well. When people hear it, they're going to be like, “Yo, this nigga petty as hell.” Don't get me wrong, I am a little bit, but at the same time it's also in a positive way because if you never did what you did, it never would've pushed me to the edge to do what I just did. So thank you.

How therapeutic was it to write out your feelings and emotions?
It felt good because a nigga like me, I don't have nobody to talk to. I'm damn sure not going to bring a problem like that to my niggas. So that's why I started singing about it. I started really putting that energy out there so it felt good as hell just releasing that, and for other people to hear it, for other people to like it and to feel it. It just means the world to me. And for all the people that said I wasn't going to be shit, for all the people who said I was going to be dead in jail. Look at me. You made me a star.

You made yourself a star, too.
Yeah man, it took me a lot. Every last beat that y'all hear on that tape is a beat that I found on YouTube. They all “type beats.” Even “Date @ 8,” “Stickersz,” “On God.” Every song that you heard and that you're going to hear is a YouTube-type beat And I made all these songs, sock on the mic, holding a microphone, and just singing around. No setup, no extra shit. I was recording with a $90 microphone.

What was it like meeting Drake?
I didn't even know I was looking at him. We were having a whole conversation and he was talking for a minute straight. I was just looking at him, but I fuck with that nigga. He cool as hell behind the scene. He a cool dude, so shout out to him for fucking with me.

How'd you figure out how to change the pitch of your voice? Was it just some program?
Everybody want to know about that shit, when in reality, I’m like, “Damn you niggas don't know I can sing. With “Stickerz,” I was just playing around and I just touched some shit. I don't even remember what I did. I just touched it and was like, “Oh shit, that sounds good. Let's do it.” But it's funny because as of lately, I’ve just been using my real shit. I just been using my actual sound and it's funny because people not even picking up on that shit. It's like, “Yo, he did it again. He pitched it up,” when in reality, it's not.

You also spoke with Ye on the phone, and he mentioned you as one of his favorite artists right now. What was that first conversation like?
He’s one of the smartest people that I’ve met in a while. He's actually intelligent. I fuck with dude. He just be giving me sauce, and just telling me, “Keep a level head.” So that's my dog. I fuck with him

Do you have a wishlist of features?
Hell yeah, 4Batz, 4Batz, and 4Batz. But I mean it would be two people, but those two people would be 2Pac and DMX. But they’re dead and gone. I'm big on what happens naturally. I don't want to force anything. I love good music. It's a lot of artists out here that have good music so if niggas want to work, let's work. 

Do you ever see yourself getting in the booth and messing around with some rap verses as well? 
I just do my own thing. I think that's how I describe the music. I'm just a young nigga that is just having fun. I'm not abiding by rules. I never abided by rules. I'm just having fun man. And that's my genre. Don't let the old people tell you you got to do it like this.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about you? What do people get wrong?
I think it goes back to the industry plant shit. The reality is literally the opposite of what everybody’s saying. I record, put the sock on the mic with nobody there in my mama house. I really did this shit by myself, turned up by myself. 

People was telling me I was signed to this major label and I was doing this with this label. I'm like, “Bro, what the fuck are you niggas talking about?” So that's how I felt as an insult. But after that, I was like, “You know what? I'm doing the right thing. I'm turning up,” because these niggas think I'm AI and they think I'm doing this and I'm this person and it's like, “Yo, I must be really doing something because I'm fucking with niggas.”

Do you think that you'll ever be able to love again after that experience with Jada?
Hell yeah. She ain't got to me that fucked up. That’s some Thanos shit.

What do you hope to accomplish next? 
Be the biggest artist in the world, have an impact on the world, and inspire people. One, to not be so hard on the rules because there ain't no rules to shit. There's no fucking book to making it and making music. Also, letting people like me from being from where I'm from, just let their wings fly. So you kill people 24/8? So you ain't got a mama that you kiss on the forehead? I just want niggas to really understand that you can be vulnerable too and we can run it up.

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