It’s 3pm, high school for the day has just finished. The Porsche Cayenne is rolling down the road and you’re sitting in the back seat. One of your parents is lecturing on studying hard, saying “if it ain’t sandstone, you’re going it alone”. You feel the weight of the world crushing on your shoulders. It’s as if the private school fees and extra tuition weren’t enough.
But you hear a sound on the radio, a song from rapper Post Malone plays. Better Now is what the song is called. Your knuckles whiten as you clench them tight. You think that in a world where change amounts to a white billionaire as US president, you too might have a chance. You think #MeToo is exclusive and offensive. Post Malone is your boy, Post Malone has become your messiah.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is something catchy about Post-Malone’s music. It’s faux-rap lyrical hooks and easily memorable beats do give a nice soundtrack to the more mundane facets of life. Like driving in your car to get groceries, or maybe studying exams. But that’s as far as the appeal stretches.
Every time a single from Beer Bongs & Bentleys gets air-time, its just lift music. It’s vacuous, empty space. You might as well be listening to John Cages 4’33” (essentially four minutes of silence)—at least that has the excuse of being experimental.
It doesn’t leave much to the imagination really. It’s a sordidly devious business plan. Post Malone takes a genre, one borne of political repression, strips it all of anything socio-political and dilutes it like a litre of OJ—initially sweet but lacking substance.
Because that’s what’s in now. The tribulations of being a white, middle-class kid. The heartache of your parents buying a hatchback instead of a luxury sedan. Or being superficially bohemian at a music festival. Just like how yoga and one attempt at veganism don’t make someone with a paper-thin personality anymore “deep”, Post Malone will not make your non-existent struggle anymore tangible. Its Mandela with a flat-screen at best.
The lines “I made my first million, I’m like, ‘Shit, this is it,'” from Pyscho show elements of an eternal struggle. “Had so many bottles, gave ugly girl a sip,” passes through the ears. Who hurt you Post Malone? Who hurt you?! These are lines stemming from a wise philosopher. Looking like a more ratchet version of Shia Labeouf would send anyone into an existential crisis. Cognito ergo sum.
The album wants to be whatever you want it to be—and that’s the problem. Post Malone has stretched Beer Bongs & Bentley’s ambition so thin the substance is literally a veneer of crusty 20-something idioms and heartbreak. Maybe an angsty 20 year old, thrusting away at their own dissatisfaction and contempt, may utilise the record as some metaphorical crusty tissue of consolation. But for those looking for something more, you might be disappointed.