Post Malone
via Instagram / Post Malone

Hip-hop is in a weird place right now. Blue and purple dreads are prerequisite for success and the 2017 XXL Freshman Class appears to have been generated by an algorithm — XXXtentacion (who is CANCELLED if the heinous allegations against him are true) looks like a member of Insane Clown Posse’s Juggalo fanbase.

Through this bizarre, meta-gumbo that is hip-hop at the moment, a few refreshing ingredients have emerged. One of them is a funky white dude named Post Malone, whose new banger “rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage) is perched atop the charts.

Malone catapulted to stardom off the success of his breakout single “White Iverson” — a track so out there it doesn’t have an analog to compare it to. Who would have thought an ugly white dude likening himself to “The Answer” (Allen Iverson for those of the younger generation) would set the internet ablaze. But, the combination of an extremely palatable beat and a video full of intriguing contradictions somehow cracked the algorithm. The video for his breakout single has over 400 million views to date.

Hailing from Syracuse, New York, Post Malone (real name Austin Post) moved to Texas when he was 9, where his dad was the Dallas Cowboys’ assistant director of food and beverage. That came with a few perks, like free food and tickets, but the real inflection point in Post’s life came when he started to mess around with FL Studio (FruityLoops; the world’s most rudimentary beat-making program) in high school.

He produced a mixtape in that his homies banged, but to say it generated any sort of “buzz” would be hyperbole. He went off to college at Syracuse University, but lasted only a few months there before moving to Los Angeles with his a friend. In LA, he came up the moniker “Post Malone”, linked up with a few producers, and shortly thereafter, recorded “White Iverson”.

The secret sauce Post Malone has tapped into is a recipe with several ingredients. First, he doesn’t give a f*ck what anyone thinks. He’s staying in his own lane and doing him. Who would choose to conduct themselves like that? You’re a white dude with cornrows and gold teeth? Great! Your sound is a proprietary fusion of hip-hop, country, R&B, with a little grunge mixed in? Even better.

That’s sauce you can’t teach. For the uninitiated, here’s (pre-jail) Gucci explaining “The Sauce” to someone who wouldn’t know sauce if he tripped into a puddle of it:

Second, Post knows how to pick beats that everyone likes. His down-tempo, synth-laden beats make for easy listening; sober or otherwise. His music has a quality that is nearly universally appealing, just like Drake’s. There aren’t many artists in today’s rap game who have broad appeal to guys and girls.

Third, he understands how to ride the wave. His debut album, Stoney, featured Justin Bieber, Quavo (of Migos) and 2 Chainz (and has been certified platinum). Very judicious features. His new joint is a collaboration with 21 Savage, an undeniably poppin’ rapper.

His upcoming album, Beerbongs and Bentleys, will be another strange, but enjoyable trip down the path that is Post Malone’s musical career. Can he continue the wave he started with “White Iverson”?