Mike Posner’s ‘A Real Good Kid’ was written over a two year period which saw Posner lose friends and family members – including fellow artist Avicii, and his own father, who he considered his best friend. The album is his third solo release, and fourth overall, having released the self-titled ‘Mansionz’ as part of a duo with blackbear.
‘A Real Good Kid’ is a hard hitting album; written during a period when he moved back into the family home in Detroit, in order to spend time with his father during the last few weeks of his life, it picks up on all the emotions – more than picks up on – it throws the emotions around the room – that he had felt during this period. He also experienced the death of his close friend Avicii, about which he writes in ‘Drip’, a part guitar, part spoken word track, which is probably the most emotive of all the songs on the album. He broke up with his girlfriend during this time as well, and this is also covered in ‘Drip’.
“Am I the only one here who doesn’t know what the fuck is going on? I worked the last 10 years, I’m a multi-millionaire, I’m 30 years old, it’s supposed to be all good. It’s not fucking all good.”
It’s not all low points however. ‘Move On’, the 5th song on the album, is Posner at his most pensive, very thoughtful, and it’s backed by a simple percussion beat and light electric guitar. There’s a positive vibe to it, and some great lines, which remind us that Posner is as much a poet as a singer/songwriter –
“Beginnings always hide themselves in ends; at some point I will be okay”
Other poetry on the album, because these are more than just songs, and they’re enough to make anyone weep at our inability to put our thoughts into words with such style and pathos, include the great line from ‘Stuck In The Middle’,
“Too tired to be famous, too vain to be unknown”
and from ‘How It’s Supposed To Be’,
“My heroes all died young, they hung themselves with pain”.
There’s a lot in this that reminds us of Mike Shinoda’s recent album, ‘Post Traumatic‘, also a cathartic record, in this case to put into words how he was feeling about the death of his friend and bandmate, Chester Bennington.
The title for ‘A Real Good Kid’ is revealed at the very last. Fittingly, Ponser’s father, who it’s revealed during the album, died while Mike was out at the shops, has the last word. We hear what sounds like it’s coming from a home video, Posner senior is taking a tour around the house, and he introduces the viewers to baby Michael, who is happily gurgling away. Clearly proud of his tiny son, he says to the camera, “Anyway, he’s a real good kid”. It’s clear Mike is also proud of his father, the shared love is obvious all over the record: from the recordings of Mr Posner’s voice asking to hear another song, to Mike telling his father that he loves him, in a conversation on ‘January 11th 2017’, the date of his father’s death.
‘A Real Good Kid’ is insightful, yet voyeuristic in a way, at times we feel like unwelcome visitors, slightly uncomfortable. In other times however we feel very much welcomed. There’s a great deal to unpack from this album, which isn’t possible in just one listening. It’s an album which needed to be made however; not just in order to give Posner closure, but also to show his fans, and the wider community that grief is a process we all go through, and that it’s important to get it out there.
‘A Real Good Kid’ is out now, on Island Records. Stream and download here.