To have penned one of the most recognisable hits by Gen Z’s Prince of Pop Justin Bieber and still be better known for music of your own is an impressive feat by itself; one that RnB singer/producer Blackbear has achieved effortlessly. With massive, recognisable charters such as “IDFC” and “Hot Girl Bummer”, Blackbear has demonstrated his worth to be far more than a meagre one-hit-wonder.
Beneath his adopted stage name is Matthew Tyler Musto, and the heavily-tattooed star is a lot more delicate with his words than generally perceived from his image. One thing that’s for sure—music is something Matthew holds in very high regard, even out of the limelight. Acknowledging that plenty of musicians in the industry fall victim to burning out and eventually disregarding the initial and genuine passion for creating music, he reassures that writing and producing makes up to be most of his hobbies.
In my spare time when I’m not making Blackbear songs, I’m making songs for other people. It feels like something I am doing all the time.”
Aside from filling his downtime with music, a relatively recent addition to the Musto family has been keeping the musician occupied. In an adorable Instagram post late January, Matthew announced the arrival of his newborn son, Midnight, gushing with the joys that came with his newly-knighted fatherhood. Ever since then, Midnight has made a number of cameos in his father’s pictures.
Becoming a father has also opened his perceptions in terms of Blackbear’s potential to expand the target demographic of his music. Previously predominantly focusing on the young adult age range with explicit songs that gravitated towards the themes of sex, parties and drugs, he finds himself intrigued with making songs that could possibly land on the playlist of adolescents and elderly alike. “It made me take my life a little more seriously,” he professes in regards to how his son changed his life, and quips an afterthought, “I definitely have a better sleep schedule too.”
As far as the value of life is concerned, Matthew has been through quite an ordeal that would go on to instil a deeper understanding of the pricelessness and fragility of human existence. In 2016, what first appeared to be a bad bout of acid reflux had him rushed to the ER and diagnosed with necrotic pancreatitis; a condition that offers a mortality rate of 1:3. Faced with his own reality in the rehabilitation of his ward was how third studio album “Digital Druglord” was born—both name and artwork a reflection of the environment that he had, unfortunately, found himself caught in.
Befittingly, the fifth Blackbear studio album on the horizon has been christened “Everything Means Nothing”, an awakening that reiterates the triviality of tangibles in Matthew’s life. “Because all the material things in my life don’t matter, as long as I get another day.” The album will succeed 2019’s 18-tracker “Anonymous”, which saw single “1 Sided Love” soar over 6 million hits on YouTube. Throughout his discography, writing appears to be Matthew’s strongest suit alongside the husk that edges and coats impassioned words ripped straight from the diary of a brokenhearted. Whether the track is stripped down to plucked acoustic strings like in “Changes”, synth-charged favourites such as “Dirty Laundry” and “Dead Roses” or straight radio bangers like “Hot Girl Bummer”, it is fair to say that the versatility is as apparent as his sonic competency.
Pop-punk forerunner All Time Low’s newest album “Wake Up, Sunshine” bears an imprint of Blackbear’s past dabbling in the genre, with Matthew jumping in on “Monsters” to offer smooth vocals that complement Alex Gaskarth’s defining tenor. Though the ex-frontman of scene band Polaroid acknowledges that the chances of returning to front a punk outfit were slim, he surmises that scene blood still courses through his system and that he enjoys contributing to the community from time to time.
As for now, the Florida-native rapper cosies up at home to spend some quality time with his family, keeps in shape with regular workout schedules and tending to his Animal Crossing village on his Nintendo Switch. “I like games for kids like Super Mario and Mario Party. It’s so much fun,” says Matthew, revealing a form of paternal warmth that many listeners may not pick up from between the explicit lines.