Are Post Malone’s critics too critical?
Let me start off by saying this: I don’t like Post Malone’s music.
In fact, I don’t like most of the current hip-hop scene. Trap hats are overdone, there’s little originality or inspiration, and I personally enjoy understanding the words of a song without having to look them up.
But what I dislike more than Post Malone’s music is the people who can’t stop complaining about Post Malone.
There has been overwhelming backlash to this SoundCloud era of hip-hop. The most recent example being by Jeff Weiss of the Washington Post, whose scathing “review” of Malone and his recent festival inspired me to write this article.
Weiss’ article is littered with personal attacks, cries of cultural appropriation and unnecessarily complex vocabulary that screams “music snob.”
And while I can appreciate a good roast, and I don’t totally disagree with the statement the article made, it ended up as empty and meaningless as the music he was criticizing. It can be summed up in five words: “I don’t like Post Malone.”
The lengthy, 2000-word article reminds me of Grandpa Simpson yelling at a cloud. There’s not a clear point he is trying to make. It also never addresses its own title, not explaining what “this American moment” is, nor why Malone is perfect for it.
The whole article just demonstrates a clear lack of effort to even try to see the appeal of Post Malone.
My biggest issue with many music critics is that they don’t try to understand why the music is popular. They act like a whole generation of children has suddenly gone insane, and there is no reason for the popularity.
First of all, this happens with every generation. Jazz used to be considered “the Devil’s music” back in the 1920s, and Elvis shaking his hips on the Milton Berle Show had music critics discrediting his musical ability.
Second of all, Generation Z has grown up in a world with baby boomers and Gen Xers yelling at “millennials” and blaming each other for all of their problems. Many of them are tired of all the conflict and arguing and want to escape.
That is the real purpose of this music. The music is relaxing, simple music that you can vibe out to. It’s not trying to be deep. It’s not trying to be innovative. It’s just trying to be music.
And fans are fine with that. With him breaking Michael Jackson’s record with 77 weeks on the Billboard Top 10 albums with his album “Stoney”, it’s clear that something in his music strikes a chord with listeners.
On top of just music, personality is becoming more and more important in this new musical movement.
Many people like Malone and his music because they saw him in an interview, cover Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice”, or as a guest on YouTuber Ethan Klein’s podcast. The consensus is that he is a nice, down-to-earth dude.
Fans love connecting to their favorite artists through social media or other ways. Strong communities have grown out of many of these fandoms, and that can give people comfort: something that is hard to find in today’s landscape.
So, yes. I would say he is the “perfect pop star for this American moment:” the moment in which America’s youth turned to music as a place to escape the violent divide of the world, wondering why we can’t just help each other.
Society is at a turning point right now.
We look back at events like the civil rights movement as if they happened long ago, but there are thousands upon thousands of people who are still alive today who lived in a time with segregated drinking fountains.
In an ever-divided world, talented writers like Weiss can incidentally add fuel to the fire that continues to polarize our culture. Reading his article made me upset.
Upset not because he was being critical, but because he wasn’t trying to understand. The confusion about Malone’s popularity can be easily cleared up through basic research and talking to fans.
People have a choice to make. Either they can choose to be ignorant and berate people for liking certain types of music, or they can put in a little effort to understand people’s different tastes.
You don’t have to like something to appreciate it. I don’t like most of Jay-Z’s music, but I know that he’s an incredible producer. I don’t like K-Pop, but I understand the “idol” culture surrounding it.
And I don’t like Post Malone, but I understand the culture and community that the genre evolved from that makes it so popular.
But if there’s one thing I know about music, it’s that the more the parents hate it, the more the kids will love it.
So, Mr. Weiss, when you ask, “who allowed this to happen?” I respond: “You did.”
Feature photo courtesy of Associated Press.