Mat Musto has made huge waves in the music industry, crafting hits alongside some pretty big artists. Musto, now known as Blackbear‘s list of collaborations include Pharrell, Childish Gambino, Ne-Yo, Mike Posner and even Justin Bieber, co-writing one of his biggest singles (you may have heard constantly in 2012 called “Boyfriend”). Stepping into the spotlight, Blackbear released his debut album Deadroses on Valentine’s Day this year. The 10-track introduction to the indie artist is a combination of soothing R&B vocals reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s earlier work and another indie favorite of mine named Marc E. Bassy (lead vocalist of the highly underrated group, 2AM Club) that’s bound to blow up soon. Blackbear’s vocals are complimented by chilly production that spans multiple genres while creating a cohesive sound.
Deadroses starts off with synth-pop “4U,” a mid-tempo track that lightly bangs as Blackbear croons to a special lady. “4U” is a nice introduction to Blackbear, and he gets even deeper into his feelings on “I Needed You.” As Blackbear pours out his feelings over a piano and bass-driven production, it reminds me of an old school R&B track. Deadroses’ ability to combine the soul of R&B, catchy pop-driven lyrics and alternative production makes this album an easy, exciting listen that’s begging to be played multiple times to fully appreciate it.
There are only two features on the record. Rapper G-Eazy can be heard on “90210,” a bass-heavy hazy track about a Cali girl while his girlfriend, Devon Baldwin, sings on the pitch-altering slow jam, “Waste Away.” The only complaint I have about Deadroses is that the production is so similar on each track that it can sound like you’re listening to one long song at times.
“Idfc” is one of the highlights off of Blackbear’s first studio album offering. Blackbear is brutally honest as he lets his girl know that he cares about her but isn’t trying to get his feelings hurt, “Tell me pretty lies / Look me in the face / Tell me that you love me / Even if it’s fake / Cause I don’t fucking care at all.” Blackbear’s songwriting skills is what I appreciate most about this album full of honest records. It’s not as mainstream as an artist like Sam Smith but isn’t trying to be different just for the sake of being different. I could easily see tracks like “4U,” “Waste Away,” and “Dirty Laundry” being played by people who liked Drake’s latest release, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, for example.
The last three tracks “Dirty Laundry,” “My Heart Is Lost,” and “Deadroses” have Blackbear getting very experimental with production. The last three tracks definitely save Deadroses from sounding too similar, and these tracks change in mood and sound pay off. If Blackbear’s singing career doesn’t work out as planned, he can always re-focus on crafting hits for some of today’s hottest artists. I haven’t heard too much buzz about Deadroses, but if Blackbear pushes the album with some solid performances and releases a few singles, I can see Blackbear being an artist to watch in 2015.