By now you probably know Post Malone, and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you played a part in the record breaking numbers that beerbongs & bentleys saw in its first day. Due to his overwhelming popularity and influence, journalists rushed to review Post’s follow up to 2016’s Stoney, and so far it’s seen a mixed reception with flavours of bias on both ends.
The sophomore release receives the same dismissive attitude that Stoney consistently dealt with – critics far and wide were more interested in occupying the ‘one-hit wonder-cum-cultural appropriation’ high ground – which was to be expected when a cornrowed white guy from Texas exploded onto the rap scene back in August of 2015 with ‘White Iverson’. On the other side of this argument, you now have torrents of diehard fans subconsciously unable to comprehend the appeal of Post’s signature blend of genre and personality. They’re perhaps forgetting how they’d cringe at the memory of artists like Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit – the white artists of yesteryear who fused rap and rock influences and saw overwhelming success of a similar nature. Who knew appealing to a wide audience would make you popular?
The story continues with Post’s meteoric rise to mainstream fame: Stoney made him a star and the narrative of his follow up release deals with the a lot of the after effects – the overall tone being perfectly typified by the title of track three: ‘Rich and Sad’. Instrumentally, there’s a lot of melancholic and lavishly crisp trap-flavoured beats, which allow for Post’s gruffer yet dexterous voice to truly shine.
Opening strong with ‘Paranoid’, a foray into the negative effects of the limelight, ‘beerbongs & bentleys’ dances between the highs and lows of fame. ‘Over Now’ pushes the Post Malone sound to its limit by straying far from your typical rap instrumental and navigating more towards arena rock in parts, and ‘Blame It On Me’ sees some of the most expressive vocal performances of Post’s career. Like Stoney‘s ‘Feeling Whitney’, ‘Stay’ is another standout acoustic cut that sobers you up from the hedonism of the rest of the album, proving that expressive diversity can only show a true talent when it’s executed well.
A key criticism of Post’s music is the use of rap music, or black culture in general, as a vehicle for fame with a view to navigate away in the future. With every aforementioned step away from rap, you can metaphorically hear the critics crack their knuckles, ready to bash their keyboard like he’s the only person to ever experiment with their own influences and progress as an artist. Even the ever positive Lil B gave his two cents on Twitter: “Post Malone is slowly turning into a white dude! Lol he’s pushing, it give it a few years he gon be full country and hate blacks lol”. Perhaps a bit much in this case, but it’s hard to separate legitimate criticism with trolling, especially on the internet. There’ll always be figures in the spotlight who people love to hate. Luckily, he’s not being pushed around by these critics, and while he capitalises on the sound that works for him, it’s not his only focus.
At first you might be disappointed by the lyrical content’s consistent focus on the polarities of money, drugs and partying due to the parallels with the common cliché of mainstream rap. However, in a short amount of time, it’s what Post’s life became, making it tough to avoid, yet not totally forgivable for that reason. A lot of this album still deals the angsty swagger portrayed in 2016 single ‘Congratulations’, but with time, this stance has matured into a decent attitude by pushing himself to not be undersold by his the hits that made him one of the biggest acts in modern contemporary music. These efforts are clear, with lead singles ‘rockstar’, ‘Candy Paint’ and ‘Psycho’ incapable of outshining the rest of the album, and none of this eighteen-track strong release is hampered by filler tracks, of which Stoney saw a small handful.
The polarising effect that Post Malone has on a modern audience is common with any artist that deals with excessive levels of fame, and it’s undeniable that he’s riding the silver lining that this provides with aplomb, so let’s hope that the stats, money and fame don’t get the better of him. ‘beerbongs & bentleys’ may not be wildly revolutionary for music, but it does meet the mark as a stepping stone towards the iconic status that he’s quickly moving towards.