photo: Tyler Golden/Getty
By Jeff Uveino
With a five-piece band behind him and a stack of Bud Lights at his side, Austin Post lit a cigarette and lifted a microphone to his face.
The hip-hop artist, better known by his stage name Post Malone, wrapped his jet-black painted fingernails around the microphone as a camouflage hat cast a shadow over his tattoo-laden face.
He proceeded to lead Dwight Yoakam’s band through a cover of Brad Paisley’s 2001 hit “I’m Gonna Miss Her,” hitting every note with ease as steel guitars and fiddles played behind him.
Malone performed the country hit as part of Matthew McConaughey’s “We’re Texas” virtual benefit concert, which helped raise money for Texas’ victims of February’s severe winter storm.
While this may have been Malone’s most prominent nod to country music thus far, it was far from his first.
And, while his hip-hop success has made Malone one of the world’s most popular artists, he could likely stray from the genre before his career ends.
Evidently, Malone’s country album is coming. It’s just a matter of when.
Malone’s relationship with Yoakam, a country music artist whose career started in the 1980s, dates back to Malone’s first album.
On “Feeling Whitney,” an acoustically driven outlier on Malone’s 2016 half sung, half rapped debut “Stoney,” Malone references Yoakam.
“I put on a little Dwight and sang a happy tune,” the 25-year-old Syracuse-born, Texas-raised artist sings.
Then, in 2018, Malone joined Yoakam’s show on SiriusXM satellite radio and accompanied him on “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” one of Yoakam’s 13 top-ten hits.
Malone’s current discography obviously identifies most closely with hip-hop.
He’s had No. 1 singles with hip-hop artists 21 Savage, Ty Dolla $ign and Swae Lee. His most recent album, 2019’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” won an American Music Award in 2019 for “favorite rap/hip-hop album,” and won a Billboard Music Award in 2020 for top rap album.
Malone has left a paper trail of interest in country music throughout his career, however.
Aside from the Yoakam shoutout, his song “Stay” on 2018’s critically acclaimed sophomore album “Beerbongs and Bentleys” sounds like it came from an Eagles record. He’s covered Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, Jr. He sang on stage with Keith Urban.
And, in a 2017 interview with Shop Talk, Malone recalled playing country music at a restaurant near his adolescent home of Grapevine, Texas.
He’s been known to wear a cowboy hat and boots, and can often be seen on the red carpet sporting a “Nudie suit,” a term coined for the rhinestone-filled outfits created by tailer Nudie Cohn that became the normal apparel for country stars throughout the 1960s, 70s and beyond.
At this point in his career, straying from hip-hop would be redundant for Malone. He and his music are too popular.
However, once his shelf life begins to run out and he reaches his mid-30s, the album will come.
It may not even be worth asking whether Malone will record a country album or not. The better question, however, is which current (and former) country stars he’ll feature on it.