Even in the fast-paced stream-today, gone-tomorrow economy of modern-day hit songs, Post Malone is in a league of his own. The genre-bending artist has four of the most consumed tracks of 2018, each of which feels equally at home on a hip-hop playlist as it does a pop radio station. Credit part of that mass appeal to Post’s manager Dre London, the sort of music industry newcomer who relies on his own creative instincts ahead of absorbing the advice and trend-forecasting of others.
“Post connected so strongly in 2018 because of his consistency and authenticity,” says London, a U.K. native who relocated to the U.S in 2008, founding London Ent. “So as the year was rolling along, fans and everyone around saw consistency in his sound as he kept on putting out hit after hit. This led to discovery, transitioning into steady growth and onward.”
Indeed, with each successive Post single, the audience seemed to multiply exponentially, starting with “I Fall Apart,” a holdover from debut album Stoney,” produced by another London client, Illangelo, and following with “Rockstar,” Post’s true breakout hit. As London recalls, “Post did a video in the studio after finishing the verse and it went viral. I remember seeing Chris Brown’s Instagram showing two fire emojis as the caption. It reassured us that the rest of the world was going to see the vision.”
Adding 21 Savage as a feature was another smart move, credited in part to London, who suggested the Atlanta rapper. “When he sent us back the session files we now knew we had a hit record on our hands, because the vibe that 21 added complemented perfectly what we already had recorded,” says London, whose client Tank God had a hand in the song’s production. “It felt just right.” “Rockstar” would go on to top the Hot 100 for eight straight weeks and be certified seven-times platinum.
Follow-up “Psycho” is what London describes as “a complete creeper,” while “Better Now” was a surefire hit. For validation, look no further than a video of Taylor Swift backstage at a show telling Post, “ ‘Better Now’ is so insane… I’m so jealous of that song, that hook.”
Post Malone is in a unique position in that he blurs the line between pop and hip-hop. His singing is rhythmic, which makes it rap-like, but accessible to a broad audience as well. “What’s crazy is that in mainstream radio across America and the world, hip-hop is now the most dominant genre,” says London, who notes that Post and his team don’t court radio as is traditionally done with station visits and multi-artist concerts. He puts more importance on “the metrics of measuring data — like what they’re listening to, how long they’re listening to a particular song, and which songs are more popular than others that helps us managers gauge what works, and what doesn’t, in real-time.”
It also brings new challenges, including the speed at which tech is moving. “It’s sort of a gift and a curse,” says London. “Having to adapt so quickly to these changes is definitely key to an artist’s success.”
See Variety‘s 2018 Hitmakers list in its entirety here.