Post Malone’s first No. 1 hit, “Rockstar,” is a case study in contradictions.
First up: Post Malone (real name: Austin Richard Post) isn’t a rocker at all, but a rapper. Second, despite the explicit laundry list of hedonistic and reckless behaviors he namechecks here, the song’s subdued vibe, paired with Malone’s monotone voice, suggest that he’s not really having much fun at all.
But that hardly stops him from indulging just about every excess-filled rap cliché in the book.
The song’s opening line wastes no time dropping the song’s first f-bomb, in this case related to “hoes,” followed by a brag about “poppin’ pillies.” Three lines later, marijuana shows up: “All my brothers got that gas/And they always be smokin’ like a Rasta.” Then, gun references: “F—in’ with me, call up on a Uzi/And show up, name them the shottas.” He follows that up with the threat of his “homies” showing up to “make that thing go grrra-ta-ta-ta (ta, pow, pow, pow, ayy, ayy).”
Those themes—promiscuity, drug use and (to a lesser extent) violence—rotate through the balance of the song.
We hear about a concert the rapper gives that was so “legendary” that he thinks he’ll probably be arrested afterward. What follows, however, is more “rock star” debauchery: “Cocaine on the table, liquor pourin’, I don’t give a d–n/ … Hundred b–ches in my trailer say they ain’t got a man.” Guest rapper 21 Savage serves up more of the same, blending lyrics about sex, drugs and bling for the balance of his verse.
For all that, though, Post Malone’s voice barely rises above a mumble. Slate reviewer Chris Molanphy described the song’s vibe as “a damp, druggy bummer of a club track.” I have to agree. Post Malone sounds not just inebriated, but tired—as if some part of him knows that living the “rock star” life in all its carnal glory isn’t actually making him happy.
Is that the intended message in the apparent disconnect between this song’s lyrics and its sound? Is Post Malone quietly critiquing the “live like a king” lifestyle that his lyrics explicitly chronicle in “Rockstar?” In other words, is this song actually a satire?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, intriguing though they may be. All I know for sure is that by the time I get done listening to this downbeat litany of unrestricted fleshly indulgences, I felt pretty weary, too.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.