From ‘Boyfriend’ to blackbear: The rise of Matthew Tyler Musto

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From ‘Boyfriend’ to blackbear: The rise of Matthew Tyler Musto


Whilst smaller and the least dangerous of the North American bears, black bears are the most common, and distinctively known for their superb climbing ability. Like his musician pseudonym title, Florida musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and rapper Matthew Tyler Musto, better known as blackbear, has excelled at climbing the fruitful music industry tree.

The multi-platinum selling artist impressively swung onto the scene at the ripe age of 16 with highschool punk-rock band Polaroid who landed a deal with Leakmob Records. But this lane diverted in 2008 when Musto entered the solo silo after being discovered by Tabari Francis on beloved social media platform, MySpace.

This fate-tale led to interest from R&B giants Ne-Yo and Akon, which started Musto’s genre-spanning resume and extensive mentorship to hone his production skills which he applied to tri-EPs, Brightness (2008), Contrast (2009) and Exposure (2010). But it wasn’t until 2011 when the blackbear brand was adopted that he really expanded his accomplishments section.

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The pivotal moment came from a songwriting collaboration with Mike Posner, who would go on to become the John to his Paul and the other half of his rap-duo, Mansionz. That co-write would be for a track ‘Boyfriend’ by a doe-eyed teenage star, Justin Bieber.

‘Boyfriend’ became a major commercial success, spiking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 from 521,000 sales of digital units of the single in the United States and has become the sixth highest-ever debut digital sales week in the United States, not to mention further sparking a fandom of ‘Beliebers’.

This was the first instance of significant songwriting success for the upcoming artist. Along the way, Musto has offered his impeccable songwriting and producing abilities to fellow pseudonym users, G-Eazy, Gucci Mane, and 2 Chainz, Mike Posner, Maryland pop-punks All Time Low, one third of the Jonas brothers, Nick Jonas, Machine Gun Kelly, and Ellie Goulding, along with Cam’ron, Mod Sun, Rivers Cuomo, Linkin Park, Billie Eilish, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, Mike Shinoda, Charlie Puth, Tiny Meat Gang, and Maroon 5.

This year alone he has contributed to the comeback of Avril Lavigne on ‘Love It When You Hate Me’, ‘IDGAF’ for BoyWithUke, and joined long-time collaborator Machine Gun Kelly on his highly anticipated ‘mainstream sellout’ album for the track ‘make up sex’.

blackbear has been shaking the ground with all of these name drops, but that’s just the start of this prodigious artist’s impressive career. In his own right as an artist, blackbear has a long list of EP’s and albums to his blackbear brand.

Following the name change and smash success from the Bieber breakthrough, blackbear released EP The Afterglow in 2014 which landed him number four on Billboard’s Uncharted listing of releases from upcoming artists. He wouldn’t remain upcoming for long, with this EP also groundbreakingly leading to blackbear becoming one of the first independent artists to monetise streaming on provider Soundcloud, breaking down barriers for artists of all career-points to be paid for their product.

Shortly thereafter, blackbear released his debut 10-track album, Deadrose, with lead single ‘idfc’ blowing up the streaming statistics on both Soundcloud and Spotify. The track currently sits at 550 million Soundcloud hits and just shy of the 600k mark on Spotify, whilst remaining one of his most revered tracks.

While the limelight shines ever-so brightly, the LA scene doesn’t come without complications; one that could have been fatal. In 2015, blackbear was hospitalised and diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis caused from excessive alcohol consumption. Another defining moment, this time personal, and a moment that would shape the growth of the blackbear as a person and artist.

It can be heard across his discography; HelpDrink Bleach, Cashmere Noose, Digital Druglord, Cybersex, ANONYMOUS and everything means nothing have all continued the trajectory of blackbear but all bear the different stages of growth for an artist thrust into the industry at such a young age after having a near-death experience. These sonic units were captured through a maturing gaze and offer sprinkles of his genre-fluid background. This time period produced hits ‘hot girl bummer’, ‘me and your ghost’, and ‘queen of broken hearts’.

But it’s here, today, that we find blackbear at his most ambitious, most authentic and most appealing stage of his career. His latest creation, sixth studio album, in loving memory, is a culmination of his broad artistic styling and speaks to his impressive catalogue. Taking cues from his childhood collection of Blink -182, Rancid, New Found Glory and Alkaline Trio, along with revisiting his Polaroid phase, whilst adding in his Mansionz mix and pop-pedestal producer roles, in loving memory employs a nostalgic mix of emo, pop, rock and rap that feels most on brand to his bold, brightly patterned and painted hair, tattoo-covered, gold tooth wearing exterior.


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in loving memory sees blackbear continue to flex his golden phonebook of networks, drawing in childhood idols, drummer extraordinaire Travis Barker on ‘the idea’, The Used on ‘toxic energy’, the New Found Glory on ‘nothing matters’ and long-standing collaborator Machine Gun Kelly on the album defining belter ‘gfy’, whilst the music video features blackbear friends Kelly, Aisha Mian, Benny Blanco, Mike Posner and August Maturo.

Of The Used collaborative number, blackbear says, “‘toxic energy’ is a love letter to that toxic person that you have reached your limit on. It’s when you’re done babysitting and giving your heart away and you need to take time for yourself. This person lifts you up like cocaine but drops you in the dark like a lightning storm, the only way out is inward, enjoy.”

Out today, in loving memory is the second baby introduced into the blackbear family this year, following the birth of his second son with Michele Maturo in March this year. As blackbears’ internal supporters continue to grow, so do this fanbase and accolades.

blackbear was nominated Best Alternative Song at the 2022 MTV Music Video Awards for his work with Avril Lavigne on ‘Love It When You Hate Me’. It was a huge weekend for blackbear and a great time to get behind one of the biggest talents in the music business.

in loving memory is out now. 

This article was made in partnership with Sony.