Before debuting at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and breaking Apple Music's single week streaming record, Post Malone's "Rockstar" was born on a stressed out biology student's hard drive at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.
After a full day of finals in December 2016, Tank God came home and sat down to make music with the hope of working out some stress and ended up with three beats—including an 808-heavy cut with dark, somber melodies. Then, a few days later, he headed to New York to work on music with his friend Christian Combs and had a chance encounter with Post.
"Post Malone was in another studio room close by," Tank says. "We ended up crossing paths and I asked him if I could play some beats. He said, 'Let's get weird,' so I played him that beat and the rest is history."
Explaining that the song's heavy 808s shook the whole room when he pressed play, Tank says Post was impressed with the production as soon as he heard it and started singing "I feel just like a rock star" right away. From there, he fleshed out the rest of the song with references to rock legends like Bon Scott and Jim Morrison.
"It’s a lifestyle," Post explains to P&P over email. "We are the new rockstars! It was important to pay respect to the legends."
By the end of the night, he had recorded a full draft of the track and uploaded a snippet to Twitter from the studio, but the song was still missing something.
"We knew it needed someone," Post says. "I just felt 21 Savage would bring that attitude which is exactly what the song needed."
After some finishing touches from engineer Louis Bell, the song was finally released on September 15. Within a week, Post had the highest charting single of his career. Listen to the final product below and continue for our full conversation with Tank God.
When did you first make the “Rockstar” beat and how did it end up in Post’s hands?
I made the beat in college at the University of Hartford in Connecticut last December. Then I went to New York to go to my boy Christian Combs' studio session. Post Malone was in another studio room close by. We ended up crossing paths and I asked him if I could play some beats. He said, "Let's get weird," so I played him that beat and the rest is history.
When you sat down to make the beat, what were you going for?
To me, the melodies are really dark. I was going through a lot of stress. It was finals week and I had literally just taken three finals after studying all day. And I was like, “I need to get my mind off this stuff.” So I sat down and made three beats. And that was one of them. Then three days later, I went to New York and played it for Post.
Do you know what specifically he liked about the beat?
It's hard to move Post, but I think it was the 808s in the song that got him. The studio was so loud that it shook the whole room when I played it. I think that's what it was.
Were you in the studio when Post recorded his part?
Post recorded a draft of the whole song right there on the spot. You know, like most artists do, he later finalized it and sharpened it and added a feature. So now it's this big record. But he did the rough recording the first day right after I played it for him.
What was the vibe like in the studio when he recorded that?
Everybody was shocked at how fast everything came together and how random it all was. But it was definitely a party vibe.
At the beginning of the song, is that eerie laugh a recording of Post? Or is that a sample?
Yeah, that's Post. [Laughs]
Did the beat go through many changes after you first played it for Post?
Nah, nothing really changed. Just the outro. That's it.
The song is obviously full of references to old rockstars and plays up some of Post’s background in rock. Do you know what made him want to make a song about rockstars?
Yo, I can't even say. He was just bouncing ideas around and that's what he came up with, just singing "I feel just like a rockstar." And after that, he just started building around it.
Do you listen to much rock music?
Yeah, I listen to all genres, because you never know how you can incorporate it into your sounds. I don't listen to a lot of rock, but when you're with Post, obviously you're going to be listening to a lot of that.
Do you know where the idea for getting 21 on the song came from? Or why Post wanted him?
I don't know. It was just one day, someone was like, "Yo, 21 might be on it." Then the next day 21 was on it. That was some crazy shit.
The song is already really successful and breaking records. If you were to guess, why do you think this song is connecting with people so well?
It's a different vibe that's not out right now. There's no vibe like “Rockstar.”
So, Post has obviously been making a lot of music lately, getting his album together. Why do you think this song, specifically, made sense to release first?
Because it's a hit. [Laughs] Nah, it was just a great record and the whole team loved it. So, why not put it out. We've been waiting for so long.
What else do you have on the horizon? What should people be looking out for from you?
I can't talk much about what's coming out, but I do have some things in store and I'm excited to put it out and let the whole world listen to it.
You can hear Tank God's recently released Tank God mixtape below.