Post Malone caused a minor firestorm with his comments that “nobody talks about real sh*t in rap,” and rightfully so; he made his bones in the music business being billed ostensibly as a rap artist with tracks like “White Iverson” and “Congratulations.”
“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,” Post said in a recent interview with Poland outlet NewOnce. “There’s great hip-hop songs where they talk about life and they spit that real sh*t, but right now, there’s not a lot of people talking about real sh*t. Whenever I want to cry, whenever I want to sit down and have a nice cry, I’ll listen to some Bob Dylan.”
While he’s always blended a singsong style and varied musical genres and influences into his creative output and his live performances, he’s been primarily identified, however inaccurately, as a rapper.
Which is why it’s so disturbing to see him toss away the genre that gave him his purpose and kickstarted his career — but not unexpected. We’ve seen this movie before. It’s happened so many times that the beats have become almost rote to those who have followed hip-hop with even cursory interest.
What is disappointing is seeing just how little regard Post Malone holds for the music that gave him his place, and how little experience he has with hip-hop — as a genre and as a culture. Historically and currently, rap has always talked about “real sh*t,” from interpersonal issues to social justice. If Post Malone doesn’t recognize this he’s only been listening with half an ear.
Rap is seen as a genre with a low barrier to entry and has always fought to be recognized as a legitimate art form, even from its earliest days. The incipient subculture was seen by many as a fad that would eventually burn itself out as its practitioners grew up and got bored. Yet, the early experiments with poetry and rhythm that constituted the genre’s nascent canon only inspired future generations to expand on the skills needed to be considered a “good” rapper. Anyone can rap — not everyone can rap well.
Almost as soon as this second generation of hip-hop loyalists proved that genre could be as lucrative (and considerably more in many cases) than any other, the vultures started circling. Vanilla Ice built a career on being the “white MC Hammer,” at least until it was revealed that Rob Van Winkle had largely fabricated the more narratively appealing aspects of his rap persona. And then, he moved on, first to an attempt at a hardcore rock career, then to a second life as a reality TV star.