A few days ago, L.A. based artist Blackbear, released his latest track, “Emily” (below). The smooth track details his infatuation with a certain special someone, repeatedly crooning “I’m yours tonight”. After hearing this new track the other day, I was led to re-visit Blackbear’s latest full project, which in turn led to self-confliction via a new question that had arose. Below is a brief memoir of this self-confliction.
Way back in mid-February, the producer-singer-songwriter extraordinaire, quietly dropped his latest project, Deadroses. Blackbear (formerly known as underground-indie artist, Mat Musto) pleasantly mixed together a plethora of genres, sounds, and emotions to create a completely cohesive and unique project. Deadroses flew generally under the radar (despite sitting top 5 in both the independant and R&B charts), with album links and reviews very had to come across. As COGRADIO put it so perfect in one of the only online reviews of the album, “Blackbear is one of the greatest artists that you are not listening too”. After just a few plays, of a couple songs you will understand the talent of the artist, and begin to understand the hype (or lack of), but after a couple plays of the project front-to-back, a new question arises: Did Blackbear just drop the album of the year…. without anyone noticing?
The brief 35 project comes across as a broken love-letter, from somebody deciding whether or not to move on, while reminiscing on past experiences. Co-writer of hits such as Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend”, or G-Eazy’s “These Things Happen”, it is evident that Musto is able to come up with some catchy tunes, but it is just as evident that the content is still loaded with meaning. The influence of his punk-rock background, mixed with his hip-hop and R&B sound is also quite evident throughout the project, especially in the feelings elicited.
Tracks like “Dirty Laundry” display a obvious Bay Area influence with the fun, bouncy sound, while tracks like “IDFC” and “Ain’t Trippin” slow it down and display the vocals and lyrics, while “90210” features G-Eazy and sounds like the greatest radio track you could ever wish for. The broad range, while maintaining singularity is what makes Deadroses so great. Blackbear has admitted in interviews that the project was more “thrown together” than some of his other projects, but I think that is what makes the broadness work; The fact that a bunch of songs that sound different but evoke the same feelings can go together and create cohesiveness is something more than noteworthy.
The only 2 feature verses on the project are by the aforementioned rapper G-Eazy, and coincidentally his girlfriend Devon Baldwin, and her breathtaking voice on “Waste Away”, so its safe to say that the project wasn’t carried by features, but rather complemented.
Throughout the project, Blackbear’s production chops shine as-well. Perhaps its the fact that the project is 100% him, but the beats never outshine the lyrics, while never falling flat; both are in perfect unison. Seemingly seamlessly, Blackbear is able to create a virtual duet with himself, just through the sounds that flutter through your headphones.
Over the last 6 months since starting this website, I have critically listened to move music than I ever have in my life, and I can honestly say that Deadroses has impressed me more than 95% of all of the largest, big-name successes of the year. The last 5% realistically comes down to personal preference, such as my love for the island vibes on Major Lazer’s latest project, or my personal appreciation for Chance the Rapper’s creativity and soul, but in regards to pure storytelling, beats, emotion, lyrics, and cohesiveness, Deadroses by Blackbear has to be personal AOTY so far in 2015. And I don’t take titles like that likely.
Deadroses is available on iTunes for purchase, but in the meantime you can go stream the entire project here. Follow Blackbear on Soundcloud for all of his free-releases, and hit him on Twitter to express your feelings for the project.
Two Words:one love,