Bear1Boss revamps old Atlanta rap tricks
Born in Buffalo, New York, but having spent most of his life in Atlanta, Bear was introduced to the studio around the age of eight, when his uncle was churning out trap music during the style’s heyday. He soaked up all the music in his orbit, including early Zaytovens and some outside influences like Lil Wayne; a formative musical listening experience for him was Saturday nights at the rink, which he was a regular in his preteen and teenage years. “They had candy, wings, girls twerking and playing all the latest music,” he recalled. “If it was in your playlist, they played it and if you didn’t know it, now you knew it.”
During those years, Bear started recording his own music, because even though the city was in the midst of one of the richest eras in rap history, he still needed more. “Look, all my favorite rappers—Thug, Future, Key!—didn’t drop enough for me,” he says. “I had listened to everything! So I started making the kind of music my favorites were doing but in my own way. From there, a teenage Bear ran into family friend DJ Teknikz, the engine behind local hits like Travis Porter and 2 Chainz. Teknikz gave him studio time and slots as his sound came into its own.
Bear1Boss found his bliss in 2020. Made with producers like Ziti, Tylur Ocean and Popstar Benny – whose fingerprints would soon be all over Bear’s sound – his mixtape America’s sweetheart is really another crap. Blending Atlanta’s more spaced out side with the short attention span of an artist who grew up a lot on the internet, Bear leaps from sound to sound, stream to stream, effect indeed. Take “Xan!” » the flagship song of the project. Bear’s vocals are overwhelmed by Chipmunk’s pitch shifts and stutter effects, but when we hear them without any effects, they’re extremely moving. After America’s sweetheart, each subsequent tape only increased the experimentation. In 2021 super fantasy 2, the beats are as hyper as a sugar rush, and he enlists his friend DJ Mainodaplug to talk shit up and down the tracklist; on America’s Sweetheart 2, he plays with faster tempos and distorted flows. These strips are peppered with misfires and sketches that don’t quite come together, but when it clicks, it’s euphoric.