Where Are They Now? From beerbongs to Bentleys: Post Malone’s Rise to a Cultural Icon

image

Post Malone is a walking cultural landmark. It’s hard to imagine anyone who has a better life than the New-York born artist who is best friends with Justin Bieber, but that wasn’t always the case. Through rejection, a stint of living out of a closet, and braving harsh criticism, Post rose to become one of the most interesting and pivotal figures in today’s rap landscape and beyond. 

Born Austin Richard Post and raised in Grapevine, Texas, the rapstar in the making was largely influenced by his father who, like the best of us, went through a DJ period in his youth. Enmeshing himself in his father’s varied musical taste, Post quickly became fascinated with various genres himself, specifically those of hip-hop, country, and rock. The disparate genres would eventually inform the artist’s brand of rock-minded rap, but before then, he would show a particular interest in guitar. In typical Post fashion, he credits this early fascination with learning and playing guitar to the video game, Guitar Hero.

image

It is at this point that we arrive at Post’s first major rejection. In 2010, he tried out for Texas-based metalcore band, Crown the Empire, and was ultimately rejected when his guitar strings broke during the audition. However, Post took it in stride, continuing to play in a heavy metal band before experimenting with production in FL Studio and Audacity. The result of this bout of experimentation would be the rapper’s first mixtape Young and After Them Riches, which Post would later deem awful. Yet, the mixtape seemingly struck a chord with his friends and classmates, who voted him “Most Likely to Be Famous.” An offhanded bookend to every high school yearbook would soon turn to prophesy.

Following high school, Post would enroll at Tarrant County College before dropping out to move to Los Angeles to fully pursue his dream of making a name for himself in the music industry. Moving with his longtime friend Jason Probst, who at the time was a famous Minecraft YouTube streamer, Post would freeload and live out of Probst’s closet. A tale stranger than fiction, it’s all too fitting for an artist as idiosyncratic as Post. Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, the “White Iverson” would be born and Probst would become a professional Fortnite streamer. The latter is a story for another article.

Meeting producing and songwriting duo FKi, who have been a pivotal production team in the sphere of Atlanta rap, as well as producer Rex Kudo in 2015, would prove to be the major break Post was looking for. During an overnight session with Kudo, Post would record “White Iverson” two days after writing it. The basketball-referencing track which would rack up over a million pays within a month of its release would be the rapper’s first taste of major success and widespread criticism. Beyond the label deal it would land with him with Republic Records and the cultlike following, “White Iverson” also brought with it many who championed him a one-hit wonder. In typical Post fashion, he soldiered on.

For the newly hailed “White Iverson,” that meant being ushered into Hollywood’s music elite. A boy from Grapevine, Texas, who just the year before was freeloading out of a closet, now found himself being asked to perform at Kylie Jenner’s 18th birthday party and to open for Justin Bieber’s “Purpose” tour. The former would result in a relationship that would lead Post to lend his vocals to Kanye’s much-applauded “Fade,” from The Life of Pablo. It was around this time that the Bieber show opener caught our eye, as we eagerly awaited each and every new release, from “Go Flex” to his debut full-length project August 26.

Despite being left off XXL’s “2016 Freshmen Class” cover, the year would prove to be Post’s biggest yet. An opening slot on Bieber’s tour, a feature on one of Kanye’s most critically-acclaimed albums to date, a debut album, and his first top-ten song on the Billboard Hot 100 – the year-end highlights were many. His debut album Stoney would go double platinum and feature the Quavo-assisted hit “Congratulations,” which would peak at the eighth spot on the Billboard Hot 100, but to Post the album was mediocre. A clear perfectionist, he would arguably deliver a near-perfect rap project shortly thereafter.

First teasing the project in early 2017, beerbongs & bentleys would skyrocket the rapper to the status of a cultural landmark before the end of 2018. The lead single, the 21 Savage-assisted “Rockstar,” would top not only the Billboard Hot 100 chart but would top the charts in Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Ireland, Portugal, and the UK. Breaking records with just the lead single, the release of beerbongs & bentleys would go on to achieve similar feats. Upon its release, the album broke first-day streaming records on Spotify and would go platinum four days following its release, cementing Post as a lasting cultural icon in the world of music.

So, what’s next for our favorite Ones To Watch artist turned worldwide phenomenon? Well, as of August, Post broke Michael Jackson’s record for most weeks on Billboard’s Top R&B and Hip-Hop Albums chart, with Stoney beating out Thriller’s 76 weeks spent on the charts. Not too bad for a “mediocre” record. Beyond that, Post is currently busy at work on his third album, launching a festival –Posty Fest, which will occur in October in his native Texas– starting his own record company, and will continue crafting golden tweets until Twitter shuts down their servers.

Listen