Republic Records
Republic Records

Post Malone might actually bear a closer likeness to his Iverson moniker than he thinks; especially on his debut mixtape, August 26. Everyone knows that Allen Iverson had no problem making the highlight reel due to his acrobatic basketball skills and natural talent but what he lacked was “practice.” The six-foot guard rarely hustled back on defense and certainly didn’t work on fundamentally taking his game to the next level. The same narrative applies to the “White Iverson."

For starters, August 26 serves more as a warm up for his debut album (set to drop on that day) than an actual standalone mixtape. It runs across 10 songs and clocks in at just over 35 minutes. Within that half hour, there are moments of brilliance that highlight how talented Post actually is (he co-produces three of the 10 tracks) but the arrangement is a little absent. His signature Auto-Tune croon is of course woven across rolling trap drums and dab-inducing bass, as it usually is, but there doesn’t appear to be any real attempt at elevating his game in any way. Instead, we get a handful of tracks that sound like different, watered-down versions of “White Iverson.”

The tape kicks off with the mellow FKi-produced “Never Understand” featuring Larry June. “Same life, getting rich, whoa I got a fuckin' problem” is cliché in itself but is probably a very true reality for Post as he sits on the brink of rap stardom. “Money Made Me Do It” is a perfect example of that natural talent Post has been riding since last summer’s breakthrough hit "White Iverson." His vocals are messy enough to be interesting while being solid enough for him to shoot for high notes freely. On this particular 2 Chainz-assisted track, Post pulls an infectious melody out of thin air and the FKi instrumentation puts the mind numbing trap drum kit on ice for once.

“Hollywood Dreams/Come Down” is another track that uses Post’s singing ability for purposes other than predictable hooks and bridges. Fki and Louis Bell borrow from Fleetwood Mac's classic 1976 track "Dreams" for the beat while the summery vibes are in full effect as Post cascades with Stevie Nicks-inspired lines like, “Thunder only happens when it's raining/And players only love you when they're playing” and other uber-metaphorical passages. “Oh God,” the album’s closer, makes good use of Post’s natural supersonics.

The rest of the tape, especially songs like “Monte,” “Fuck” and “Git Wit U” don’t help in pushing his brand any further. His story isn't developed more, his vocal range sticks to the usual formula and the songs end up as lifeless cuts that take up space. In true Iverson terms, these are the tracks that don’t hustle back on defense or practice in the gym; they lack any substantial effort. Post would have been better off substituting these songs for his previously released material like the promising “Go Flex.” That way, on the tape’s full play through, there would be some familiar tracks that still hold tangible replay value.

Based off of Post Malone’s instant success last summer and his continued accomplishments during the better half of this year, August 26 is lacking the wow factor, but perhaps he's saving the good stuff for his official major label release. The low points are counteracted with the highs but unfortunately that isn’t enough to push his stock any higher leading into his debut album, due out in August. In order for Post to make his first commercial release championship-worthy, he is going to have to practice his craft and find where he fits. That’s right, we’re talking about practice.

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