A smash album that was simply OK
Today’s rap game is flooded with so-called “SoundCloud rappers,” as the popular music-sharing platform has given rise to a mass of new stars.
Household rap names such as Kodak Black and Lil Uzi Vert have carved out fan bases and a bunch of record label offers after racking up millions of views on the service. Austin Post, better known as Post Malone, also achieved great success on the platform with the release of his single “White Iverson” in 2015.
The song became inescapable, receiving acclaim from such mainstays as Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa. That year also found Post meeting Kanye West, signing with Republic Records and beginning a friendship with Justin Bieber, going on to open for his Purpose World Tour. Come December 2016, his debut album, “Stoney,” arrived. This album included the Billboard Top 10 hit “Congratulations,” featuring Quavo of Migos.
In the interim between albums, some controversial comments about hip-hop’s lack of emotional depth came about in late 2017, something Post seems to have been able to move past. His second studio album, “Beerbongs and Bentleys,” dropped on April 27 and received platinum status after a matter of days.
The album’s main vice out of the gate is that each song is pretty formulaic. Some echoing synths or guitar chords usually lead off a track, with trap drums and a biting snare following as reliably as the tide. Lyrically the album is not terribly deep, with musings on fame, fortune and women continuing to be Post’s forte. If nothing else, the album title is not misleading, but rather an artist accurately assessing his product.
It is not that the 18 tracks are not enjoyable – they certainly have some summer bonfire vibes. And it is also sure to delight Post’s steadfast fans, as this latest effort is what we have come to expect from the artist. Yet predictability is also where you run into trouble. If an artist pigeon-holes themselves as being known for one thing, they start to lose people.
Staying relevant often becomes about changing genres or dramatically revamping one’s personal image (for example, Miley Cyrus), though an artist does not need to go to such strenuous lengths to keep the public entertained. Gradual developments along the lines of lyricism and personality also have the power to solidify a musician, often in a whole different bracket than where they started, something J. Cole has done well.
At the end of the day, Post’s second studio album is perfectly passable, sure to sell a boatload of copies and make a similarly large quantity of money for the rapper. Songs like “Zack and Codeine”, a drug-infused play on the former Disney Channel show, finds Post at his best. Fans of old Nicki Minaj also have something to look forward to on “Ball For Me,” where her feature sounds right out of the year 2012. The previously released singles, “rockstar” with 21 Savage and “Psycho” with Ty Dolla $ign, continue to be solid entries in Post’s catalog – moody bops that could signal the beginning or end of a party, depending on the vibe.
It would seem that based on several tracks, and Post’s own comments on the matter, he will eventually evolve into a country artist. Such a move in Post’s later life might prove fruitful, if he were to adopt a Johnny Cash-type sound on his both sorrowful and silky vocals. He could also try to shoot for that emotional depth he claims remains out of reach in his current lodgings. Will he make that move? When the hip-hop features quit calling and that community no longer cares, yes. For now, his style is not going anywhere.