I have long thought that Post Malone was underrated. His first song, “White Iverson,” blew up and he was almost universally considered a one hit wonder. But he kept making hits. He quickly built up a loyal fanbase. His first album — Stoney — was a great project. Each song on that album does something different and fun. Post found a way to do the thing that rappers had been trying to do for years: combine the country and rock aesthetic with hip hop.
Unfortunately with his newest project, Post gives up the experimentation and uniqueness of his last project. Beerbongs & Bentleys, which sports one of the best album titles of the past few years, is a long, drawn-out and fairly boring experience.
Every beat on this album sounds like a generic trap beat with detuned synths and loud 808s. There are no crazy samples, no ear-catching hooks, nothing that makes you want to listen to it again.
Post attacks every track the same exact way. He writes a simple, melodic hook. Post is phenomenal, and I mean phenomenal at writing hooks. His consistency is paralleled only by Rae Sremmurd — then come a few verses. These are usually basic and slow. The songs that come from this aren’t bad per se, just generic and boring. Sonically everything is pleasant and well-thought-out, but playing the album in succession makes it blatantly obvious how formulaic each record is.
“Stay” is one of the few songs that diverges from the prototype. While it isn’t my favorite Post song, it at least showcases his power as a singer-songwriter. With just an acoustic guitar backing, Post belts out notes with ease. This is one of the few moments on the project where it felt like Post was doing something of interest.
I really wish he did more of that. I had very high hopes for this project. From the name to the branding to the general career trajectory, I expected Post to dive deeper into his character — and I was invested in the cigarette smoking, Bud Light drinking artist. Unfortunately, Post decided to follow the formula that made “Rockstar” go global, to the point that he lost the rebellious things he was just starting to explore with Stoney.
If you like the current trend of melodic rap with simple lyricism and hard beats — this album will fill that need perfectly. It is an immaculately produced, generic piece of hip hop. I just want Post to realize that he can create hits without succumbing to the formula. “Go Flex” off his last album shows how his unconventional style can generate a great radio hit, one that only he could have made.
I think that the true Post Malone shines in looser, less polished songs. My favorite Post Malone song continues to be “Feeling Whitney.” It is one of the most vulnerable, touching and melodically-loaded songs by a hip hop artist.
On the very other side of the spectrum, almost unknown experimental rapper Denmark Vessey dropped a project called Sun Go Nova. Vessey is best known for his features on songs by Quelle Chris. His new project is just as hectic, experimental and exciting as I expected.
Sun Go Nova was entirely produced by Earl Sweatshirt and Knxwledge. The beats here are wild, even for those two. The samples are super filtered and heavily chopped. Kicks and snares are crunchy and always just a bit off beat. Time gets stretched and slowed with no regard to tempo.
The way that Vessey raps is absolutely unique. He is wildly clever, his flow is smooth and light, and he somehow manages to follow even the most off-kilter beats. Sometimes it seems like he isn’t even rapping as much as he is just interjecting one-liners between samples and drum hits.
The lyrics on this project are a joy to listen to. Vessey and all of his features have this great talent for being insightful, introspective and absolutely hilarious.
The lyricism, the beats and the other sound effects combine to create some phenomenal moments. “Sellout” has one of the best beat pauses of all time. The instrumental goes silent after a gunshot. DrxQuinnx appears on the track yelling, “Hoes on my dick I pray to Based God.” On the same song, Vessey raps, “The Hollywood reboot of Roots / Titled ‘Suits’ / That recast Tobey Maguire as the lead.” There are dozens of gems like this hidden across the various verses on this project.
The second half of the project is completely instrumental. This is a weird decision, but for some reason it works perfectly. The beats transition flawlessly into each other, and they all seem to represent specific parts of a musical journey.
Part of me wishes that Vessey rapped over the instrumentals at the end. Some of them, like “High Noon Titan” almost beg for bars. Another part of me appreciates the musical sparseness of the beats by themselves. It is hard to say which part wins, but either way, the album sounds great.
From start to finish, Sun Go Nova is a rollercoaster. Vessey seems to avoid even the most basic rules of song making. Songs start and stop erratically. Movie samples and sound effects bubble above the mix. Verses are almost completely random: Joke lines lead into serious lines, which lead into other jokes. It is a beautiful cacophony that you want to get lost in again and again, contrary to what Post has settled into. I’ve been hooked on this album since the very first listen.