Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and producer Blackbear is known for his cross-pollinated brand of pop, R&B, and hip-hop. He initially garnered attention behind the scenes in the 2010s, penning songs for Justin Bieber, G-Eazy, Machine Gun Kelly, and others. He built upon that buzz, establishing himself as a singer in his own right with releases like 2015's Deadroses, 2017's number 14 Billboard 200-charting Digital Druglord, and 2019's Top 20 Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop album Anonymous. He has also collaborated on albums with Mod Sun and Mike Posner.
Born Matthew Tyler Musto in 1990 in Palm Coast, Florida, Blackbear began his music career singing in his high school punk band Polaroid. The group signed with Leakmob Records and at age 16, he dropped out of school to focus on the band. He quickly left the group and began posting his folky, electronic-tinged songs online. A music manager, Tabari Francis, took notice and helped Blackbear shift gears, facilitating a move to Atlanta to work on songs with singer Ne-Yo. He also worked with Tyler Carter and released several of his own EPs, including 2011's Year of the Blackbear. However, it was Justin Bieber's song "Boyfriend," co-written by Blackbear, that took his career to the next level. Released in 2012, the song was a number two hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped propel Bieber's album, Believe, to the top of the Billboard 200. On the heels of this success, Blackbear began focusing more of his attention on his own career, releasing the Foreplay EP and the Sex mixtape; the latter of which featured fellow "Boyfriend" co-writer Mike Posner, along with James Blake and Maejor Ali. (He also appeared on MGK's Lace Up.) An EP, The Afterglow, followed in 2014.
Another big stride was taken in 2015 with Deadroses, a self-released full-length that registered on Billboard's Uncharted listing of releases from upcoming artists. Deadroses included the singles "IDFC" and "90210," featuring rapper G-Eazy. An EP of acoustic interpretations titled Dead followed soon after before Musto issued his sophomore set, Help, in 2015. The EPs Drink Bleach and Cashmere Noose both arrived in 2016, as did "STFU," the debut single from Musto and Mike Posner's alternative hip-hop duo Mansionz. Two more Mansionz singles preceded the project's eponymous debut LP, released in March 2017.
One month later, Blackbear issued his third full-length album, Digital Druglord. After the album's release, Blackbear revealed he had written much of it while in the hospital recovering from pancreatitis brought on by drug and alcohol abuse. Following his recovery, he signed a distribution deal with Interscope Records. A mixtape, Cybersex, arrived at the end of the year, debuting in the Top 50. In 2018, in addition to collaborations with Mike Shinoda ("About You") and DVBBS ("IDWK"), he issued the solo single "The 1." In April of the following year, Blackbear issued the lengthy, 18-track Anonymous, which reached number 36 on the Billboard 200. Another standalone single, "Hot Girl Bummer," appeared a few months later. His fifth studio album, Everything Means Nothing, arrived in September 2020 and featured production by himself and FRND, Aaron Harmon, Jordan Reyes, and Marshmello. Included on the album are guest appearances by Lauv and Trevor Daniel. ~ Andy Kellman