I can’t tell if 645AR is doing a bit or not. The 22-year-old South Bronx rapper writes songs about serious street shit delivered in a high-pitched squeal of a voice, flipping our expectations for how those stories are meant to be told and undercutting their darkness with humor. In January, his breakout song “4 Da Trap” filtered the compact swag rap of Chicago’s Valee (or the curt absurdity of Tierra Whack) with the voice of a Disney character. It’s the sound you might hear if Future’s polarizing verse from the Black Panther track “King’s Dead” got dropped in a vat of neon ooze and came to life. To hear 645AR tell the story, he just started doing the voice in the studio one day last year and never looked back. Coming up, he moved from New York to Florida, then to Atlanta, where he met the members of the SOS Crew, who feature on his early music. The old stuff’s around; his natural rap voice is smooth, so much so that his words get eaten up by the beat-heavy songs like “Copy” and “Nun.” Newer songs like “4 Da Trap,” “In Love with a Stripper,” and “One Way” have the opposite problem: You’re leaning in out of disbelief at the contrast between the tone of voice and the lyrical content, and at the fact that, in spite of the mousiness of it, this music is very catchy.
If you lurk TikTok at all, you might know 645AR from the “How’s My Form?” challenge, wherein a bunch of teens made unfortunate jokes about racial stereotypes while the rapper’s single “Yoga” played. (Invent a thing, and people will inevitably show up and do racism on it.) AR didn’t deserve that and neither did his song. Today we’ve been treated to the official video for “Yoga,” and it’s nuttier than anything you could’ve imagined, even from a guy whose last video involved shrinking to the size of an action figure and dancing around toy cars.
“Yoga” is not your average corona-era stay-at-home video. The simplest way to describe what’s happening in this clip is to say that AR is chilling at home when he meets a friendly, pocket-size personification of the coronavirus, and they party around an empty Manhattan until things go left. But that doesn’t express just how casually batshit this thing is. Press pause at any point, and you’re treated to an outrageous cursed image. In three stops, I saw 645AR feed the virus a Taki, I saw him in Times Square running from a bloodsoaked two-story Mickey Mouse shooting beams out of its eyes, and then I saw him pick up a Nintendo Switch and watch a miniature CGI rendering of his video during his video. “Yoga” looks like what watching the news off a tab of acid feels like. The bar is raised.