Post Malone was like a UFO the way he arrived without any forewarning. “White Iverson” emerged with the silence of a cat burglar, and completely infiltrated headphones across the world. The song was a new voice singing about an old idol; there was a flavor in his tone, swagger in his delivery, and a lingo that matched the times—a record that made fresh waves in our modern rap and R&B sea. So modern that it saw one million plays on SoundCloud before radio was even aware he existed. The much-needed conversation about his hair and cultural appropriation would come, but before the controversy, it was a hard to deny a hit.
“White Iverson” and a collection of follow-up songs opened up doors to castles that Post Malone could only dream of standing in. His transformation from complete unknown to promising hitmaker happened swifty—an absolute nobody was suddenly touring the world opening for Justin Bieber. I once wrote about the privilege that allowed him such opportunities, even a man with the most substandard eyesight could see the reason why, but I never denounced the music—the music had people hooked.
He wasn’t the best singer in an age where melody matters more than vocal range, his greatest strength was an excellent ear for lush trap production matched with your typical rap formula of drugs, women and lifestyle emphasis. There was nothing exceptional about Post except that he had an excellent tone, and went on a streak of strong releases. He had the Midas touch that extended his 15 minutes.
Post may have become popular through rap platforms, but his background in music doesn’t begin there. Before making beats on Fruity Loops, he was strumming strings on a guitar. Growing up, his father exposed him to all kinds of music, and after the first wave of success, the music began to get wrapped in a blanket of various sounds. HisAugust 26th mixtape showed he was rather alien in his approach to making music—the way he blends styles and merges genres. It was different, not every song hit the bullseye, but the way he flipped Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” displayed his potential to find balance in the way he fused music.
Stoney, his official debut album, finds Post Malone in search of the middle ground, a focused project that is less about experimenting and more on defining his sound.
Production is more than the canvas that Post Malone paints upon, it’s the foundation of what makes his music appealing. He reminds me of Rick Ross—it’s not just what he raps, but what he raps over.
Post went out and grabbed a gang of producers known for bangers. There’s a reason why Post enlisted Frank Dukes and Vinylz for “Deja Vu,” he wanted the same duo that gave Drake “Hotline Bling” and the results are almost an exact replica of last year’s annoyingly infectious hit. I’m baffled how a Justin Beiber-featured remix of “Hotline Bling” failed to take over this entire planet.
Another rather shocking single that didn’t take off is the Metro Boomin-produced “Congratulations”—the kind of championship-winning anthem that features Quavo of Migos and sounds like success. DJ Mustard, meanwhile, makes a producer appearance on “Big Lie,” a mid-tempo, sugary stunt record that has the Mustard bounce. It will be a popular one.
It’s well-known what Post can do within the trap-rap sphere, and the album gets more interesting as he moves outside of it. The introduction, “Broken Whisky Glass,” feels like a country rap song under the influence of rock star drugs. It’s closer to the music on August 26th than the early SoundCloud offerings, and while it's not a song that hooked me, I could very well love it after a few more listens. “Go Flex” was released as a single, and despite not receiving much attention, it’s an early favorite. Trap snares, a guitar strumming, stunt raps—it’s like a weird combination that is strange enough to be liked.
“I Fall Apart” follows “White Iverson,” and the two songs are very different neighbors. This is where Post tries to show off those pipes. Despite his shortcomings, he doesn't need the strongest voice to illustrate this idea of crumbling, heartache and grief. When the Illangelo production kicks in, the record truly shines. This won’t be a big single, but it could very well become a fan favorite.
When I heard the chords stutter at the beginning of “Up There,” my jaw dropped. Post Malone received a gift from Pharrell Williams. This by far the most elegant production on the album, it’s like the instrumental equivalent of sinking into the seats of a Lexus and driving underneath a star-filled sky. Post raps slow, it’s almost as if he’s having a conversation more than spitting, but this delivery works well. Even if you don’t like Post, just hearing Pharrell with warm lushness for your eardrums is reason enough to press play. You can’t have a Post project without FKi 1st—he ushered the singer into the game—and their “No Option" collaboration bangs.
Lyrically, Post doesn’t get too deep—his subject palette is still lacking. Yet there’s dread that comes with the drugs, sadness within the self-indulgence, heartbreak that comes after all the partying, and new problems along with new success; it’s not all private parties and celebration.
What I see in Post Malone is someone who is well aware of his lane, Stoney does an excellent job of highlighting his skills. If it’s not broke, why fix it?
The album never goes outward, there’s no commentary on the world; it’s shallow, but where it lacks depth, the music is enjoyable. If it’s easy listening you're looking for, an album to escape into that doesn't remind you that the world is slowly burning around you, then look no further. Post Malone may not impress you the way that others rappers do, but I will not deny his ability to make a song that will hook you.
By Yoh, aka Yohney, aka @Yoh31.
Photo Credit: Nabil Elderkin