Features, Music

Blackbear on the union of emo + hip hop: “I hope it lasts forever”

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“You said the first time you heard me was on a Palisades album?” It comes as no surprise that blackbear, a.k.a. Matthew Musto is taken aback by the mention of his collaboration with post-hardcore act Palisades.

You can only imagine that when you have not one, but three songs on Spotify tracking over three hundred million streams, you’d expect listeners to know you from your own work, as opposed to a metalcore song from five years ago.

That is the case with the hip hop savant from Florida. Even if you haven’t heard of him, you’ve definitely heard his influence before, be it in Justin Bieber’s hit ‘Boyfriend’, a guilty listen of G-Eazy or even a Mike Shinoda song.

Palisades didn’t pay him for a feature though – he offered. “Palisades’ singer Lou Miceli is actually my high school sweetheart”, Musto noted.

“I’ve known him and have been making dumb YouTube videos and doing garage bands and all kinds of things, touring the United States, with Lou Miceli since I was a freshman in high school”.

It’s not just mate’s rates for features that Blackbear contributes to the scene, (even if the Palisades feature was done in exchange for Mexican food). Blackbear is a genuine fan, and if he could have gotten in, you would have been able to see him head banging off the rails at My Chemical Romance‘s reunion show in Los Angeles alongside Halsey.

“My Chemical Romance is probably one of my favourite bands of all time”, he clarifies. He even tried to buy a signed t-shirt from on his Australian run from Brisbane’s Tivoli. “I didn’t get to go to their show”, he reflects sadly. “There were no tickets even for people at my agency. I tried to sneak tickets. I tried to sneak in, they kicked me out. They gave me a black eye, so I couldn’t make it to the show. Frank, if you’re hearing this, I love you. I love them.”

“My Chemical Romance is probably one of my favourite bands of all time”.

His favourite album was Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, but as we talk, he also name drops Motion City Soundtrack’s Commit This To Memory, Acceptance’s Phantoms and Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans. Saves the Day, he adds; “Front to back”.

Musto tried to open the upcoming Saves the Day/Third Eye Blind tour, but apparently he’s “too urban” (despite covering Third Eye Blind’s “Slow Motion” way back). That kind of write-off on genre alone is becoming more and more rare, however, with Blackbear recently supporting Twenty One Pilots and heading out on tour with Pvris to support Halsey in a few months.

“I’ve been pushing for this shit to happen for years”, he says about the way that the alternative and hip hop scenes are beginning to fuse.

“I’ve been pushing for this to happen…and the fact that artists like Nothing, Nowhere are coming out of the woodwork, it’s so incredible. There are a lot of artists that are hip hop now that have this emo influence, which is so cool. I’m loving every second of it, and I hope it lasts forever”.

“There are a lot of artists that are hip hop now that have this emo influence, which is so cool”.

Those artists include Lil Uzi Vert, whose “XO Tour Life” shares a lyric with an Amity Affliction song – “all my friends are dead”.

With a new crop of artists leading the way, and with less focus on the high walls of genre elitism than ever before, there is no reason that the movement can’t continue. Blackbear calls UK alt-rock unit and current collaborator Yungblud his “long lost brother”, and the legendary punk label Epitaph Records have just signed two urban acts.

“Nobody’s that cool when the filter’s off”, Blackbear muses in reference to his Summer anthem “Hot Girl Bummer”. My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way once said the same thing – “I never wanna be cool”. To be a scene elitist is unproductive to opening yourself up to people that think the same way as you and enjoy the same things as you. Hip hop, rap, punk or post-hardcore…we’re not really all that different, us and them.

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