By: Ben Slavich
Blackbear has crept on to the LA hip-hop scene with the stealthy release of his latest EP, The Afterglow, which shines in its use of dysfunction - dysfunction as a talent rather than an ailment.
The six-song EP, released this April, along with a short film, landscapes itself in a nostalgic backdrop of stifled electronic beats produced by Boy Genius, a member of Ones To Watch alumnus Basecamp. The production on the EP, and newer releases like this week’s “Heartbroken” featuring Bobby Raps and “Down 4 U,” which samples Great Good Fine OK - compiles pulsing synths with toned voices of afterthought, creating a space for Blackbear to voice his battle with love and relationships. It’s both the common, and the ultimate, theme in his music.
Specifically, Afterglow lyrics reveal an ambiance of confusion in a storyline tracing the singer’s relationships with various women. He narrates emotional detachment ("Valley Girls”), the sucky-ness of single life (“NYE”), feeling victimized by love ("Grey LA") and the gradual journey from love to love lost ("The Lobby/Hotel Andrea.”) This final track brings the EP in a thematic full circle where the loneliness created by the absence of lost relationships swells to the forefront, rather than longing for a future relationship.
Afterglow's and Blackbear’snarrative is not unusual among artists these days, however its strength comes from the transformative story line placed within a depressingly wholesome production. Hear more from Blackbear here.