blackbear, cybersex | Album Review
Confident, tatted, singer-rapper-songwriter Blackbear assembles an enjoyable, star-studded mixtape with ‘cybersex.’
Matthew Musto, better known as blackbear, has had a big year – understatement. His biggest claim to fame in 2017 is his hit single, “do re mi,” but it doesn’t stop there. He dropped a joint project with his bud, Mike Posner (Mansionz) as well as the parent album for his hit single, digital druglord. If he’s a bit cocky, it’s understandable, right? Blackbear returns sooner than later with a new project, cybersex, which arrived on Cyber Monday, November 27, 2017.
‘Turning up’ is part of the modus operandi on opener “Gucci Linen,” featuring 2 Chainz. Actually, turning up continues throughout the course of the album. Anyways, on “Gucci Linen,” The production work is superb – a hard hitting, trap-oriented sound. It’s not innovative, but perfect ‘fuel for the fire.’ The chorus, performed by blackbear, has its share of corny moments given the wordplay, but ends up being absolutely infectious. 2 Chainz adds to the corniness, but rides the beat like a champ. He doesn’t say anything particularly intelligent, but he’s definitely an asset.
Banger “Bright Pink Tims” opens with dark, mysterious, foreboding production work, including trap drum programming. Ultimately, the backdrop sets the tone for the record. Early on, blackbear flexes:
“Yeah, I make money, I start trends / My first car, it was a Benz.”
He pop-raps the first verse. While he doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking, it’s a good look all in all. The chorus is confident and assured, intact with blackbear’s natural vocals and pitch-shifted, hip-hop oriented vocals. Cam’ron drops the second verse, staring slow at first, before coming into his own.
“Playboy Shit,” featuring Lil Aaron, is a total flex-fest. Albeit cliché, the record celebrates ‘the come up,’ perceptible from the exuberant sound, and carefree, confident hook. Nothing profound is accomplished here, but it’s enjoyable. Ultimately, it checks off the boxes of a blackbear song: profane, well-produced, and features a catchy chorus. That is indeed some blackbear shit. “E.Z.,” featuring Machine Gun Kelly, finds itself sandwiched between two superior cuts – just keeping it real. It’s okay, but not earth-shattering by any means. “That’s all I have to say about that.”
“Up in This” commences darkly, menacingly, and mysteriously. Tinashe matches the opening production work, kicking the lyrics off with hard-hitting, unapologetic vocals on the chorus. Her tone is marvelous – sexy, yet ready to ‘cut a trick.’ Blackbear follows, with his signature, distinct vocals, chocked full of game and swagger, not to mention effects. He paints the malicious backdrop like a boss, even if he doesn’t offer much substance. Notably, on his second verse, he sounds turned-up to the nth degree, rapping aggressively. Throughout his performance, the swears continue to fly. What’s new?
“Anxiety,” featuring FRND, has more of a modern pop-infused, urban contemporary sound. This is by far the most danceable joint from cybersex, clearly contrasting everything else. It doesn’t ‘go hard’ like bangers “Gucci Linen” or “Bright Pink Tims,” but it’s enjoyable. On “Thursday / Froze Over – ‘Interlude’,” blackbear sings about him and his buds sex habits – conquests if you will. It’s dirty, simple, and utterly unrefined, but it’s hard not to be in awe of his confidence, or his hook-up game.
The production “I Hope Your Whole Life Sux” serves as a chief selling point. The rhythmic flow by blackbear is another bright spot. Notably, the collaborations throughout cybersex seem to suit blackbear’s respective partner. “Down 4 U” certainly sounds as if it could appear on a T-Pain album, even though T-Pain didn’t produce this particular track. “Glo_up” has an edgier, tougher quality, a clear contrast to the sexed-up, dedicated nature of “Down 4 U.” With Rick Ross as his ‘partner in crime,’ it’s not surprising the record combines luxury, sick, sleek production, and swagger. “Top Priority” has the thumbprints of Ne-Yo all over it, who serves as a co-writer as well as featured guest. Arguably, he has the stronger performance of the two.
“g2g ttyl” marked the sixth teaser track that blackbear released in advance of cybersex. Just crossing the three-minute mark, it’s short and sweet. Compared to the other singles arriving pre-cybersex, it’s starkly different – it’s acoustic as opposed to being stuffed with synthesizers and hard-hitting trap-oriented beats. While vocally he’s ‘an acquired taste,’ and he’s profane, presenting something of a badass façade, hearing him ‘stripped down’ changes that perception. THEY. arrives for the second verse, providing a welcome contrast.
“Candayapple” screams flex-fest from the jump. Enlisting Paul Wall and RiFF RAFF, it’s a banger through and through. The hook, courtesy of blackbear, is the crowning achievement. His verse, the second, isn’t too shabby either. He sings about a relationship on closer “Santa Monica & La Brea,” On the pre-choruses, varied each time, he poses hypothetical questions regarding the relationship. On the chorus, he has a number of things – good and bad – going through his mind. Naturally, sex is part of that. While “Santa Monica & La Brea” has a lot of hypothetical shit going down, there’s also some authenticity. On the second verse, when he talks about the state of his liver, he’s being legit, considering he’s mentioned his drinking problems previously.
All in all, cybersex is an enjoyable ‘turn-up’ mixtape, showcasing the swagger of blackbear. He’s had a great year and cybersex celebrates his success. The topics are generally the same as is the artistic approach, but ultimately, he checks off the appropriate boxes. And face it – it’s hard to deny how cool the tatted singer-rapper is.
Gems: “Gucci Linen,” “Bright Pink Tims,” “Playboy shit,” “Up in this” & “Glo_up”