In 2017, artists realized that releasing as much music as possible is a huge part of not just making it to the mainstream, but rising to the top of the pyramid — and Blackbear is following this pattern.
On Nov. 26, Blackbear released his second album in an eight month period, cybersex. His impressive April release, digital druglord, set the bar high, and the Justin Bieber ghost-writer is now finding himself needing more features to try and keep that quality sound. Unfortunately in this album, he doesn’t always find what he needs to succeed.
The opening track is “gucci linen,” a trap beat trying to ride the wave of bragging about luxury clothing brands. The tired chorus lacks originality and requires filler to flow on a quality beat. The end of the chorus can be best described as cute, as Blackbear pays homage to Nelly Furtado and Nelly’s prior hits. Blackbear’s voice and verse aren’t hot, but 2 Chainz’ feature is.
“playboy shit” features lil aaron, but his verse is so generic that it’s not worth mentioning, so drama amongst celebrities will have to suffice. Blackbear ends his verse with, “Feeling real ballsy, go and ask…” and before an auto-tuned warp transitions to the chorus, it sounds like he says “Halsey.” The backstory goes that the first and only time Blackbear went to Paris, Halsey flew him out and they ended up snorting Vicodin. This inspired the song “Sniffing Vicodin in Paris” on Blackbear’s Cashmere Noose EP late last year.
After a washed up Machine Gun Kelly feature on the fourth track, Blackbear upgrades to the incredibly talented Tinashé for a nightclub banger on “up in this.” His annoying auto-tuned and ad-lib filled second verse leaves much to be desired. Those 40 seconds would have been better served with his voice unchanged or handing the mic back to Tinashé.
A disappointing T-Pain feature leads to a fun Rick Ross collaboration on “glo_up.” The orchestra strings supplement the signature high hats and base line quite well as Blackbear asks how people can grow up when all they do is gossip.
The best song on cybersex is “g2g ttyl,” an acoustic anthem about trying to get out of the same city as your ex-girlfriend. Blackbear and a guitar is a guaranteed hit, and pairing up with impressive R&B duo THEY. takes the song to another level. The vocal half of the duo, Drew Love, lends a gentle voice to a sharp tongue explaining how he himself has grown tired of the West Coast.
Getting Paul Wall to spit a verse is downright incredible, and getting RiFF RAFF to follow and not sound completely ignorant is too. “candayapple” is a compilation of one liners and plenty of Codeine references, which is more than likely the prime ingredient of what got the trio in the studio together in the first place.
The album concludes with “santa monica & la brea.” Long time Blackbear fans will find that this song reminds them of older releases, with casually pulsating bass and vintage overlay on the vocals. The song implicates the question that Blackbear has a potentially deteriorating relationship with his significant other, wondering what it would be like to pass away before he can express himself. Blackbear would take the pain of a relationship, so long as he is still a part of one.
I have been a Blackbear fan since 2012, and the kid I was then would not have thought it possible that Blackbear might disappoint his listeners. But that kid would agree with me today that when I say that the new album is frustrating to listen to. Blackbear has proven that he can still make quality, interesting, meaningful music, but he chose here to cater to the most simplistic version of the mainstream radio airplay.