Scam Rap Has Put Detroit Back on the Map

By Jason Kreloff

Have you ever wanted to know how to make quick and easy cash on your computer or mobile device? Well look no further — Detroit’s array of scam rappers have got you covered. 

Since they emerged out of Motor City obscurity, rap artists such as Teejayx6, 10kkev, and Kasher Quon have been seamlessly integrating genre-pushing musical experimentation with get rich quick schemes, creating a whole new lane of hip-hop known as scam rap. In a typical song, you might find instructions or “methods” encoded in the lyrics. Methods can range from simple card cracking to full-on dark web scams.

The dark web is a hidden corner of the internet where clients can buy and sell items such as fake I.D.’s with full anonymity. It uses an encrypted currency known as bitcoin which keeps the users’ identities completely confidential. 

The genius of scam rap is that listeners have no idea if the people rapping the lyrics have actually committed the scams, and therefore a layer of invisibility is formed. For example, in the song “Dark Web,” Teejayx6 claims, “The government tried to ban me from the dark web / I downloaded Tor browser then got back in / Went and got a VPN…” Meaning that the FBI cannot trace his IP address as he utilizes a Virtual Private Network. 

However, scam rappers are not simply commended for their informative lyrics — it’s their musical delivery which attracts and holds listeners. Invented by Teejayx6, the “Detroit” or “scam rap” flow is an approach to rapping where one attempts to fit as many words as humanly possible within one bar — the outcome being that phrases end up overlapping. This has caused fans to claim that the Teejayx6 flow is akin to him interrupting himself, yet this is not true. Teejayx6 has shown a diverse range of flows despite being most famous for the one he invented. 

Another way Detroit artists have paved the way for new generations of music is through their modernization of the“bar for bar” delivery style. For example, on the collaborative tracks “Beavis and Butthead” and “Dynamic Duo” by Kasher Quon and Teejayx6, the two break the mold of traditional four-bar alternations and take turns going one bar after the next for the entirety of the song, playing off of each others’ energy and seemingly just trying to have fun in the studio. 

Outside of vocal experimentation, the Detroit style beat has been influencing producers all around the United States. Detroit producers such as DAMJONBOI, Undefined, and K’Den Ju all helped formulate the sound we know today. These beats are known for their icy cold piano and synth lead melodies, which often stay quantized or “on the graph,” and their fast paced trap drums. This style of beat has become so popular that even producers such as Kenny Beats — who create for a wide range of hip-hop artists in Los Angeles — understand what a Detroit beat is and how to make one. 

Lyrically and sonically, Detroit’s scam rappers have undeniably changed the scene of hip-hop forever. Up-and-coming Detroit rappers such as Shittyboyz cite Teejayx6 and Kasher Quon as their inspirations — the people who showed them how to rap. Looking at music as a whole, Detroit’s scam rappers have already made a huge impact, and continue to keep pushing the boundaries for rap music, influencing modern artists like Lil Tecca and Blueface.

Born in the Bronx, New York, and known as the “squeak rapper,” 645AR is widely acknowledged for his completely out of the box vocal delivery. It’s an extremely high pitched and light falsetto which he has mastered to the point of using it as a useful and versatile tool: able to be rapped or sung in a beautiful autotune croon. After moving to Atlanta and beginning to take music more seriously, the young rapper and singer started using his studio sessions to experiment with his voice. Finally a 2018 studio session birthed what is now known as the “squeak,” something that AR claims his competition would be doing if only they could. 

In his song, “Yoga,” which now has over two million streams, 645AR raps about life in the streets — drugs, violence, money, gang activities — in a voice that sounds like Mickey Mouse after inhaling three balloons full of helium. The bouncing 808 bass is a direct counterpart to AR’s voice, serving as a perfect juxtaposition of extreme high and low frequencies on the spectrum. 

645AR shows that he can serenade an audience of millions by singing in a sombre yet high pitched delivery on “4 Da Trap.” This song is a lyrical departure from his other tracks, as he reminisces about the days when he “had no racks… the days I ain’t had no stacks” — a now economically stable man thinking back on hard times when he had to rely on the streets in order to eat. 

Often compared to Playboi Carti’s “baby voice,” 645AR’s vocal delivery has somewhat cursed him with an abundance of labels. However, AR and Carti could not be more different. Whereas Playboi Carti’s style focuses on minimalism and repetition, 645AR always presents verses which have been carefully crafted, and saves repetition only for the hook. 

Produced by Spaghetti J, his breakout hit, “Bible and a K” is the most aggressive that 645 has ever approached a beat. Still using his shrill voice but pushing his vocals to their absolute highest, in claiming he rides with a Bible and a K, 645AR shows the gravity of his situation — needing both a firearm and the Holy Bible to protect himself.

Finally, the significance of memes in 645AR’s career cannot be overlooked. One of his most recent singles, “In Love With A Stripper,” blew up on emerging social media platforms TikTok and Triller, which allow users to make and edit their own music videos on their phones. 645AR haters and fans alike used the apps to engage with the hit song, often including references to AR being as small as a mouse and accidentally being stepped on. Others used the song’s release as an excuse to criticize the artist, saying that he should quit rap. However he takes these small jabs in stride and sometimes reposts their thoughts on his Instagram account.

Overall, whether you think he’s a complete joke or not, 645AR is doing huge numbers, is signed to Columbia Records, and is widely influential right now in the world of rap and hip-hop music. Stop hating and hop on the squeaky wave!

 

 

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