Austin Post created his first mixtape on his high school laptop using Audacity, a free audio editing software. Eight years later, his new album Stoney found its way onto the Grammy nominations list for Album of the Year.
The bricks laid out on his path to success are common in the entertainment industry—building a way up from the bottom and relying on authenticity until a career takes off is nothing new. But there is something undeniably different about Austin Post, known as Post Malone, that is worth noting. How the teenager in a cramped white house in Los Angeles wound up as one of today's top selling artists is a story as crazy as the lifestyle he sings about.
It began when Post decided to move across the country at 18. After attending college to satisfy his parents’ dream of him having a normal career, he realized the lifestyle he wanted to live did not require a classroom. It meant producing music about what it's like to live in the city alongside close friends and writing about the experiences of being a teenager.
The lyrics to “White Iverson,” the first song that gave him real attention in the industry, reflect this period of his life well. Riddled with colloquialisms common in the rap scene such as “Saucin', saucin', I'm saucin' on you,” the track also outlined goals Post had for his future; he rapped about fame he was sure to encounter eventually. Ironically enough, after being uploaded on Soundcloud in 2015, “White Iverson” gained traction quickly as an anthem for the aspiring–while–flexing generation.
A song inspired by NBA player Allen Iverson made Post an all–star amongst adolescents. There was something relatable about his unrefined edges, a solace in his abandonment of the serious. Although he had already been working alongside a production team on his musical endeavors, going viral provided an audience for him that was eager to hear more about his life. By the time he released his 2016 double–platinum album Stoney, the artist had toured with Justin Bieber and collaborated with Kanye West on the critically–acclaimed album The Life of Pablo.
Throughout both Stoney and his sophomore album beerbongs and bentleys, the latter of which received a Grammy nomination, it's his transparency that gives Post a magnetism like no other. He manages to fuse both hustle culture and the atmosphere of a late–night party, and that gives him an interesting point of view on conventional rap tropes. The narrative outlined in “White Iverson” is fleshed out in tracks like “Congratulations,” where he sings “How could I make sense when I got millions on my mind?” The music video for the song has reached over one billion views on Youtube and displays the artist in his typical state, with his frizzy hair braided back and a lit cigarette between his fingers.
Last week, he released his third studio album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, which features hits like "Wow," "Goodbyes," and “Sunflower.” He recently announced the lineup for Posty Fest, the music festival he founded last year in his home state of Texas, which features Meek Mill, Pharrell Williams, Doja Cat, and other acclaimed artists. Even the undeniably bizarre festival poster imitates the relaxed nature around which Post has built his career. It's common for him to appear on stage with a red Solo cup in hand, like at this past year’s Firefly Festival, where he admitted to playing a few rounds of beer pong prior to performing.
Whether or not you're a fan of Post Malone, there's no denying that he will continue to bring his cigarette smoke–shrouded experiences into his music—and that many will eagerly await it. As he continues to achieve the success he once dreamt about on “White Iverson,” it becomes clear that there is something endearing about his casual indolence, and that very quality will keep his music blasted at college parties and on countless night–out playlists for the foreseeable future.