Rapper Post Malone on Collaborating With Kanye West: 'It Was the Scariest Experience Ever'

Courtesy of Republic Records
The rapper, 20, plans to release his Republic Records debut by the end of 2015. 

Post Malone has been swagging since his breakout hit "White Iverson" caught the Internet’s ears this past February on SoundCloud. Blending his sports savvy with folk-y bars, the 20-year-old Dallas-by-way-of-Syracuse rapper has become his own MVP, landing a major look with a Kanye West collaboration apparently titled “Fade,” also featuring Ty Dolla $ign. While the title and release date of his Republic Records debut is still TBD, Post got candid with Billboard about his connection to country music, getting cornrows and recording with ‘Ye.

You were born in Syracuse and grew up in Dallas. How did the geography of your upbringing affect your musical influences?

In New York, my dad raised me to listen to everything like hip-hop, rock and country music. When I moved to Dallas, I started listening to whatever I wanted to listen to. I was a sad kid. [Country songs] are sad songs and I was just sitting emo in my room listening to Hank [Williams] Senior, Johnny Cash and all that good stuff. It’s not turn-up, but it still gets me very hyped.

Is it true that you taught yourself how to play the guitar because of Guitar Hero?  

Yes ma’am, I was playing Guitar Hero and I just got too good. Expert mode, you know, with the orange flame. I felt cool with the Guitar Hero controller in my hand so I just told my mom to get me a guitar with an amp. It was a Washburn Lyon, and it was like 100 bucks for the whole set and it was very lit. And I just practiced and practiced.

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What was it about NBA star Allen Iverson that inspired you to name your breakout hit "White Iverson"?

He was always just the coolest, swaggiest dude. He had the coolest braids, and all the cool gear, and he would just cross up Michael Jordan and step over people. He didn't care about anything. He had all the sauce, and he just snapped on everybody.

The single attracted the attention of Kanye West, with whom you recently ­collaborated. How did that come about?

He sent me a session, so I worked on a song, and when I went back to Los Angeles we got into the studio together at Rick Rubin's. It was the scariest experience ever. Letting him listen to you record, when he's sitting over there and can hear you making weird noises -- it's intimidating, but he is such a cool guy.

Before "White Iverson," you didn't have cornrows. What has been the reaction to the look?

It's not normal for a white guy to get corn­rows; a lot of people judged me. I like the way it looks, so you have to be confident. If you like something, rock it. If you want to rock a cape every day, go for it.

An edited version of this story originally appeared in the Nov.  21 issue of Billboard.