Post Malone, literal card-carrying NRA member and soon-to-be king of pop-rap, dropped the video for his most recent hit "Psycho" last night. It's a vaguely post-apocalyptic affair, with Post (the pun, it's stealthy) and guest Ty Dolla $ign rapping in a tank and destroyed airplane fuselages. Mad Max meets Call of Duty, essentially. There's probably not that much of a deeper meaning to all this imagery of war machines, sand, and flames, as many of these things just look cool regardless of context.
OR DO THEY?!?!?!?!?!
Perhaps there is a hidden message or three within this innocuous rap video. Post Malone is the culture, so he deserves whatever scrutiny or wild mass guessing is borne upon him. Let's TAke a look, y'all:
The "Psycho" video comes out almost exactly 15 years after the US and UK invaded Iraq. A tank being piloted by some white dude amidst an ambiguous desert is an image inextricably tied to the Bush/Blair era, so it's feasible that this evocation of those times is intentional. What is it trying to say, though? Enter the wolf:
Post encounters no adversity in his trek besides this scary-ass wolf emerging from the rubble. He torches it with a flamethrower because it's presumably a threat, but did he ever let the wolf speak for itself? Post's soldier is a didact, blindly pursuing an agenda either of his own or handed down to him by his superiors. His tank notably bears a flag bearing the emblem of a crossed-out wolf, which illustrates his cause perfectly. Shortly before he fries the poor mutt, Post poses like Christ on the cross in front of this flag like so:
This already reveals a lot, because you never make someone do a Jesus pose without purpose. A closer inspection reveals that his left hand overlaps with the anti-wolf flag. Pay attention. The left hand is historically "sinister," implying that the only will Post wants to inflict on the wolves is that of harm and the Devil. He is both Christ and Antichrist. We were blind all along.
The timing, the portrayal of brutal judgement brought down on a helpless populace, the Christianity... It all maybe makes sense as a critique of capitalist greed and military recklessness. There's more, though.
What's that falling all around Post and his ludicrously comfy-looking fur coat? It's not ashes, because you can see that Post's breath is cold. It's obviously snow. In a desert. This is probably just the result of good research, because deserts actually do get very cold at night, but the snow might also be a reference to the acclaimed 2017 anime Girls Last Tour, which follows two friends as they ride around in a tank-like moped and try to survive in the icy, bombed-out ruins of society after a great war. Sound familiar?
Truly, Post Malone and Ty Dolla $igns are the moe icons of the future.
Extremely niche anime cribbing aside, the gentle plummet of the snowflakes could represent the inevitability of a doomsday we cannot prevent but we'll never notice until it's too late. The shots of a likely starving child (who is also implied to have transformed into the wolf at some point) complete the portrait. This video is a warning. If we're not careful, we'll only have Post Malone to listen to in the future, which will be fine for a bit because his songs do slap at the end of the day, but will they continue to slap after the end of civilization? These are questions we need to ask ourselves going forward. Thank you Post Malone, for opening our minds.
Phil is on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Noisey CA.