Off The Stage: Post Malone At Irving Plaza

Sade A. Spence

  • Photo: Matt Young/ The Recording Academy
    Post Malone soundchecks at Irving Plaza on Feb. 10.
  • Photo: Matt Young/ The Recording Academy
    Post Malone soundchecks at Irving Plaza on Feb. 10.
  • Photo: Matt Young/ The Recording Academy
    Post Malone backstage at Irving Plaza on Feb. 10.
  • Photo: Matt Young/ The Recording Academy
    Post Malone performs at Irving Plaza on Feb. 10.
  • Photo: Matt Young/ The Recording Academy
    50 Cent and Post Malone perform at Irving Plaza on Feb. 10.
  • Photo: Matt Young/ The Recording Academy
    Post Malone performing at Irving Plaza on Feb. 10.

A melodic voice rides a mellow hip-hop beat accented by 808s and basketball references.  Marked by cornrows and a boyish grin, Post Malone emerges onto a stage washed in purple and blue lighting.  The 20-year old artist charismatically sings and sways to his platinum hit “White Iverson” - demanding the attention of concert-goers in Irving Plaza.

Known off stage as Austin Post, the Republic Records artist never imagined his musical career would be jump started by his mastery of the video game, "Guitar Hero." “A lot of artists hate Guitar Hero. They’re like pick up a real guitar, but "Guitar Hero" really inspired me to get into music,” he admits. “My dad has always been into music and put me onto some cool stuff,” Malone adds.

The Texas-bred musician, who used to play in a rock band and is partial to classic country music, began writing lyrics at 12 before he began producing beats at 14 using the digital production software FL Studio. Malone’s dad encouraged him to continue producing while also introducing him to varying genres that spanned musical acts like, Metallica and Ice T – to which Malone credits his unique hip-hop sound steeped in piano, guitar, synths and his own smooth falsetto. “The sound I have now is a culmination of everything I’ve done.”

Malone’s wildly popular single “White Iverson” was created over a few days, with four days attributed to beat production and one late night recording session. After posting the track to Soundcloud in February 2015, the song quickly gathered steam. Reaching over 1 million downloads and a platinum certification, “White Iverson” attracted the attention of hip-hop fans, music labels, and major recording artists like 50 Cent and Kanye West, leading to his new home at Republic Records as well as collaborations on 50 Cent’s “Tryna F*ck Me Over” and “Fade” featured on Kanye West’s recently released album The Life of Pablo. Using these “surreal” moments as a learning experience, Malone says he’s been taking notes and applying these lessons to his debut album slated for a March release.

With a hype-man in tow, Post Malone brought his carefree melodies and charming stage presence to Irving Plaza. Opening with his easy-going hit “White Iverson,” Malone was greeted with screams and cheers from his ecstatic audience. Owning the stage like a seasoned veteran, the young hip-hop artist demonstrated his vocal range as well as his mastery of the latest urban dance moves. Taking his show to the next level, the Syracuse, N.Y.-born rapper brought out GRAMMY Award winner 50 Cent and G-Unit. Together they performed their popular collaboration “Tryna F*ck Me Over,” as well as Post Malone’s “Mood,” and some of 50 Cent’s fan favorites including, “I’m The Man” and “What Up Gangsta.” Bringing the show full circle, Malone closed the night with “White Iverson,” this time performing with an upbeat energy before dropping the music for an a cappella chant of the chorus with the audience. Prior to taking the stage, Post Malone sat down with Off The Stage correspondent Sade Spence to discuss creating his unique sound, his rise to fame, and his highly anticipated debut album.

Who did you listen to growing up?

My dad put me onto Metallica and Mega Death all the way to Outkast, Ice T … all that good stuff. It was mixture of everything. And I got a little bit into country myself.

You listen to country, you used to play in a rock band, how did you come to create the sound you have now?

I feel like the sound I have now is a culmination of everything I’ve done. You can hear on my album [it’s] more groovy and definitely not as hip hop, but still everything is kinda put together. But I was in a rock band, super hardcore band, and a folk band. And I had been making my own beats in my own rap songs before that. I couldn't make my mind up about which direction I wanted to go, so I put ‘em together.

You've said on social media you aren’t a rap artist, so how do you categorize your music, if you categorize it at all?

I don't like to categorize. I don't think genres are cool! Do you what you want to do and make what you like. If you like it make it.

“White Iverson” has become really popular with over 1 million downloads, certified platinum, what was it like the first time creating that record?

It was really early in the morning, like 7 in the morning. I already had the beat and had it written. I was a little nervous because it was so different, but I made it and put it out and then it went crazy. It went up! It took me by surprise by how fast it blew up.

What is your creative process like? Do you produce the beat or write lyrics first?

It’s usually a beat. I make a beat or someone gives me a beat - ‘Lemme jump on that.’ I slam a couple Bud Lights and then I get into the booth … freestyle some melodies and then write to the melodies. Afterwards I figure out the words.

Is writing or producing the beat more difficult?

I mean writing is definitely. The actual drunken singing with no words is the easier part. That's my favorite part. Just put a scratch on it and then go back and write the lyrics. Then … [put in] whatever little words may come back when you’re mumbling … then you figure it out.

You lived in Texas for awhile, which is a major music hub, was there anything you took from that scene that has influenced your music at all?

Chopped vocals … The slow pace that you can still ride to. It’s very unique, The South. I think it’s cool. I incorporate that into it.

How have you grown as an artist since releasing “White Iverson?” and do you think your sound will change as your approach your debut album now that you’re with a label?

The sound is going in a cool direction I think. There are a lot of cool influences on there instead of straight up digital production. I play guitar on the album. Just tryna make something fresh and tasty. I mean I definitely have more power behind it. [They] don’t tell me what to do. They trust me. That's important with the label. Full creative control! And it’s turning out good. The record sounds great.

What can you tell us about this record? Is there a name yet?

There is no name! Date should be March. Other than that it is very low-key. We got a lot of cool surprises, working with a lot of cool artists and producers … making it funky.

When it comes to writing who do you look to or what do you look to for inspiration?

It’s really my own life, just how I feel. I have a lot of feelings, I’m a cancer. I have a lot of feelings.

Also, you’ve got some major collaborations with 50 Cent, Young thug, Ty Dolla $ign, and Kanye West. What was it like working with these seasoned rappers?

It’s crazy you know. It’s always been a dream of mine to work with Kanye and 50 and Ty Dolla $ign. They’re so talented. I think there’s a lot of cool people that I’ve worked with that I never thought that I’d work with. Heroes of mine … on the new album … it’s been surreal. Made me work harder. 

Is there anything you've learned from these seasoned rappers that you have applied while approaching your own album?

You know like different techniques. Different little things you can do to make the record sound better. Like writing, coming up with things, listening to other melodies, seeing how it goes up and down. Young Thug has the best melodies. When you expect him to go down, he goes all the way up. Its wild! Just listening and making it my own.

Check out more from Post Malone HERE.

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