It’s no secret Post Malone and hip-hop have a turbulent relationship. Malone clings to hip-hop as his main source of popularity and income, while turning his back on it in lyrics, interviews, and on Twitter. It's a paradoxical, but not historically uncommon, approach for Post as a white artist to pick and choose what he likes without caring where it came from. In an apologetic new given the opportunity to claim/denounce a genre that he’s appropriated without fully paying proper respect.
Writer Bijan Stephen breaks down Malone’s sound as a genre-bending melange of emo, rock, pop, hip-hop, and country, comparing him to the likes of Lil Peep and Lil Uzi Vert—other rappers bringing a darker, rockier sound to the rap game. “It should just be music, you know?” Post says as he throws back an unknown number of Bud Light during the interview. (Within hours of publication, the article had been edited to read “beers.”) “Because I’ve met so many people that’ll say, ‘I listen to everything except for this, or this,’ you know? And I think that’s stupid. If you like it, you should listen to it.”
While we can spend all day dissecting the exact influences on Post’s style, it’s misleading to say that he profits directly off of anything but presenting himself as a hip-hop artist. He tried to be in a heavy metal band, remember? Didn’t work out. “Rockstar” made it to No. 1 through the help of places like Spotify’s influential Rap Caviar playlist and 21 Savage’s established rap fan base. Stoney keeps distancing himself from that reality, even saying “If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to hip-hop,” in one interview.
It’s almost as if Post is running away from hip-hop, and it just won’t leave him alone! But that’s of course not the case. Post returns again and again, because hip-hop is the most popular genre in the country right now—and, as I mentioned, the metal band didn’t exactly top the charts.
“I definitely feel like there’s a struggle being a white rapper. But I don’t want to be a rapper. I just want to be a person that makes music,” he says to GQ. “I make music that I like and I think that kicks ass, that I think the people who fuck with me as a person and as an artist will like.”
The interviewer then proceeds to spoon-feed Post a few race-related questions to try and see if the rapper—I’m sorry, musician—addresses any of his previous problematic statements.
Do you see that it’s political to be a black rapper?
“Yeah, yeah!” he says. “I mean…shit.”
And you also recognize that there are separate struggles that go along with race, right?
“Yeah,” he says, “of course.”
The writer seems satisfied with these responses, but those half-assed answers don’t really reveal anything we didn’t already know. Post Malone wants all the access and success of being a rapper without accepting his privilege, and will use tactical non-answers to keep it. He also drinks a lot of Bud Light.