The rapper has parlayed streaming success into actual money with his current hit.
In a world where Lil Uzi Vert and Migos call themselves rock stars, does that make Post Malone the 2017 Pat Boone? In The Atlantic, Spencer Kornhaber breaks down the contemporary hip-hop use of the phrase “Rock Star” in part because Malone just topped Billboard’s Hot 100 with “Rockstar,” his collaboration with 21 Savage. Malone plays Voodoo’s Wisner Stage Sunday, October 29 at 6:30 p.m., and really, the song doesn’t claim he is a rock star; it says he feels like one, and that feeling comes from getting laid and getting wasted. As Tom Breihan wrote at Stereogum, “It’s a blissed-out and self-assured ode to the no-consequences party-life, a song about numb hedonism that sounds more numb than hedonistic.”
Still, Malone’s use of the phrase certainly echoes Da Shop Boys’ “Party Like a Rock Star,” and it’s tone deaf in the mouth of a white guy at a time when Uzi is following Kanye’s lead and claiming to be a rock star, imagining himself as a disruptive figure in the culture. Uzi uses the phrase to imagine a future less bound by bars and fealty to the R&B pantheon. Next to that, “Rock Star” makes Malone sound like the indulgent dinosaur next to the vital upstart—Malone as Emerson, Lake & Palmer next to Uzi’s Sex Pistols; or Malone as Warrant next to Uzi’s Soundgarden. The song sounds like Jerry Jones’ cynical knee for PR purposes next to the Cowboys’ drawing attention to racial injustice. As Kathi Iandoli wrote for The Guardian, "Perhaps Post Malone is simply doing what many white artists have done for years: taking on the attributes of black music with none of the burden."
But like Jones, Malone knows how to get paid. Paul Resnikoff at Digital Music News points out how Malone gamed YouTube and streaming services to make the video and streams of “Rockstar” pay off. In short, the video on YouTube is simply the chorus edited together to create a groove as long as the song itself, but without verses or 21 Savage’s spot. Since it’s a good chorus, it has earned approximately 45 million views so far, and the video has a Linkfire link, which tells Republic Records and Malone what streaming services people when they go to one to check out the song. On Spotify, “Rockstar” has more than 212 million streams so far, and Resnikoff does the math.
“‘Rockstar’ has more than 212 million streams on Spotify,” he writes. “So, 212 million x $0.05 = more than $1 million. For just one track.” That doesn’t include his share of the YouTube ad revenue.
With that kind of jack, the party doesn’t have to stop any time soon.