Through a haze of crooked finger peace signs, crisp white shoes, and squinty stoned eyes, Blackbear promotes himself; on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and he does it well. Remaining unsigned to any record label, he has no strings attached to anyone but himself. He releases his songs on Soundcloud before they even hit Spotify or iTunes. Fans go nuts and practically beg him to let them buy it. That’s how you know you’re onto something special.
After recently announcing his musical collaboration with Mike Posner titled, “Mansionz”, Blackbear ( born Matthew Tyler Musto) is back with a brand new solo single and plans for an album release on, you guessed it, 4/20.
The song, “Make Daddy Proud” appeared on Soundcloud Monday night, making fans squeal with joy at the sounds of some new Bear. “Proud” lets electronic tid-bits take the front seat as we’ve heard on his previous tracks like 2016’s”Wanderlust” and “Flirt Right Back.” Mixing hip-hop beats with electronic synths and chords seem to be his niche making him an easy crossover into the pop genre. A surprisingly charming falsetto sings, “Tell me how do you cope with it? how do you sleep with yourself at night?” The money-littered chorus praises a woman for spending Daddy’s money. His lyrics preach a subtle mix of encouragement and sexism, but the beat is too dominant to ignore.
As usual, along with the new release, came corresponding merch; orange hats (matching what seems to be the artwork for his new album) that read, “Let’s Make Daddy Proud Again.” I’m sure they’ll sell out more than coffee on Monday morning. The Pennsylvania native has a brand and sure knows how to sell it. Fans in the Beartrap support him every step of the way, selling out shows, merch, and his music.
Lyrics like, “sniffin vicodin in Paris never felt so euphoric, baby,” “get another bottle, maybe get another bag,” and “I heard that you’re addicted to them Xans now, girl,” shouldn’t make you bop your head and swing your hips, but if there’s one thing Blackbear conveys, it’s that the lyrics don’t make the song (although his can be quite witty and modern-day erotic), the music makes the song. He’s a rhythmic rapper who can actually hold a note over a ravishing electropop/hip-hop beat. The contrast between the sweetness in his voice and the brash lyrics makes him standout in his own genre; branching out from what other rappers are doing.
Yanking at the obvious cliches in our society, it’s easy to make fun of the people we’ve become in 2016. In the pop-esque “Wanderlust” Bear sings, “All her friends are verified, wow, man that’s so cool, wow, girl can we hang out? let’s take a thousand pictures…people sayin’ that we’re goals.” Social media and the California lifestyle are common themes in all of Blackbear’s music, but his disgust for our culture is also evident throughout this EP (listen to “sniffing vicodin in paris” – second verse.)
There are times when you worry about Blackbear, as he openly admits to being a drug user and wanting to die as he explicitly mentions on “Sometimes I Want 2 Die.” You almost feel guilty for liking his music for fear of encouraging such damaging behavior. But the charts don’t lie, Cashmere Noose shot up the iTunes Top Albums charts, even crowning it the #1 R&B album the day it was released. Fans have been stalking this set of tracks ever since the rapper released them on his Soundcloud back in the heat of August. It’s no surprise his fame is impressively rising due to his own team of devoted friends. He remains proudly unsigned as he mentioned on Twitter October 19th saying, “blackbear remains unsigned :)” The overwhelming success of Noose sent fans in a frenzy to buy the EP. Bear even tweeted out that if you can’t afford the new music or are struggling, to text him your email and he’ll gift it to you. He understands the importance of having a strong fan base which has kept him relevant in the music scene without needing to be backed by a label. That’s a true artist, all drugs aside.
R&B/ Hip-Hop spittin’ new hit man, Blackbear is back with a new EP, titled Drink Bleach. Despite the title, I have to say, this EP feels different. It’s older and slightly more mature. Bleach seems to be about moving on, realizations, and clarity. Not only are the lyrics more appealing this time, but his sound is evolving as well. Pop takes the lead on this EP.
One of the standout tracks, “Something Real” explores teenage nostalgia with adulthood decision making. Blackbear croons, “But maybe we were too young, too young to feel something real.” He goes back in time to a relationship that could’ve worked, but now never will. A consistent pop beat plays in the background while Blackbear explores with more synth and electronic sounds, straying from his usual R&B swag. This suits him well, while still keeping his unique half sing/rapping style.
Bear pulls Mike Posner out of the rap shadows for the melancholy, “Obvious.” A sad song that deals explicitly with the end of a relationship. “Girl, I can’t f**k with you anymore” Blackbear croons with delayed sadness. You feel for the man as the chorus honestly spits, “Let’s just state the obvious, you’re done with me and I’m done with you.” Posner gives the song the soft rap kick it needed without being too aggressive. The electro-breakdown at the end makes you hopeful that Blackbear will stick to this fresh and different sound.
Women still prove to be a driving force for Blackbear’s musical content. The dance-y “Shake Ya Ass” will make you sing every word (even if the lyrics are slightly vulgare.) While “Girls Like You” reminisces on being scorned by too many women.
I couldn’t be happier about this EP. I like that Blackbear strayed from his usual drug-induced stupor and stepped out with something much different. He’s still R&B but with a twinge of electro-pop, which fits into the slightly tame lyrics. Drink Bleach is pretty cool.
His new EP, WILDCARD is just that; wild, sexy, and raw. With song titles like, “Rehab,” “Pray,” and “Roll w/U” it’s hard not to imagine the themes that plague this 5-song trip through experimental R&B/hip-hop. Pettros keeps a sauve nonchalant voice throughout each song, making his musical imprint a unique one.
“Rehab” becomes a soothing hymn reminiscent of a racy song you’d hear by The Weeknd. His lackadaisical pronunciations don’t hinder the song, instead, they add to the drainingly edgy sound heard throughout. Pettros sings, “I don’t wanna lie no more” as he talks about the influence of drugs. The song flows directly into the piano driven “Pray” which takes R&B and puts it in a blender with a mixture of alt/electronic sounds. He keeps his verses borderline rap with unique melodic phrasing; something not many people can do well. Most of the verses are poetic and beautiful; “Could it be so many moving pieces?”, “Is it all in my head? no.” The repeating piano melody playing throughout the song adds a contrast that you don’t often hear with R&B/Rap lyrics.
Teaming up with R&B newcomer, Blackbear, Pettros brings hip-hop to the forefront with “Paper” as he brags about gold on his chain, boats in Jamaiica, etc. Blackbear slides in on the chorus with his punchy distinct voice singing, “I got control, I got control of this paper, baby and I’m a smooth operator.” These two make you wish there was a joint album in the works.
Pettros is quickly paving his way through the R&B/hip-hop world and WILDCARD is a fierce push in the right direction.