Post Malone’s rise to the higher tiers of the hip-hop world has been relatively quick. From his 2015 breakout single, “White Iverson,” to his subsequent major label debut, Stoney in 2016, Malone quickly made a name for himself as a reliable producer of atmospheric, beat-centric tracks which make a perfect soundtrack for late night driving, or late night drinking, depending on your preference. Some have criticized his approach as being quantity over quality, and his music as “sonic wallpaper,” that isn’t meant to be listened to as much as played in the background. This reputation was crushed by 2018’s Beerbong’s & Bentley’s, one of the best rap albums of the year, which put Post on the map as serious hitmaker and a reliable producer of fun, danceable bangers. Now, with just a year for turnaround, we have yet another nearly hour long project in Hollywood’s Bleeding which, for the most part, lives up to its predecessor.
Definitely the most significant improvement on this LP comes in the form of the strong and varied instrumentals. From the unpredictable switches on the opening title track to the genuine rock and pop influences on cuts like “Allergic,” and my favorite track, “Circles.” Post has often discussed his wide base of influences and has incorporated them into his music with a mixture of success, but his blend of pop rock and hip-hop is genuinely brilliant and provides an excellent variety over the long album.
Speaking of rock influences, the feature list on this LP has a few surprising names, to say the least. Future and Halsey turn in solid verses on “Die for Me,” and SZA is impeccable as usual on “Staring At The Sun,” but it’s Ozzy Osbourne’s appearance on “Take What You Want,” which has captivated listeners in the days since the album’s release, and for good reason: It works far better than anyone would’ve imagined. Ozzy sounds fantastic and his hook, though short, is commanding and powerful. This is all not to mention the roaring guitar solo that closes the track.
Beyond his features, Malone proves once again on this album that he’s one of the better vocalists in all of hip-hop. His warbling vibrato is here in spades on tracks like “I’m Gonna Be,” but I found myself far more impressed by the powerful belts on tracks like “Enemies,” and “On The Road.” Again, those rock influences rear their heads as he digs into his vocal cords a bit more to achieve a gritty, dynamic tone.
As one would expect, however, this album hinges quite a bit on Post’s status as one of the best hook writers in the business and, thankfully, this record is packed with singable ear-worms. “Saint-Tropez,” and “A Thousand Times,” feature some of the catchiest choruses of the year and virtually every second of the closer, “Wow,” is nothing short of addictive.
Sadly, this album really dives off of a cliff in the latter half. Easily the worst issue comes in the lyrics. The writing on tracks like “Internet,” and “I Know,” just feels lazy and uninventive, while the lyrics on “Myself,” are just bizarre and relatively meaningless, which doesn’t help a track which is already on shaky ground, sonically.
Additionally, there are some terrible features. I’ve never personally been a fan of Swae Lee’s work on “Sunflower,” despite it’s success as a single, as his voice is as bland and uninteresting as ever. This doesn’t compare, however, to Young Thug dropping yet another unlistenable verse on “Goodbyes.” I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed a verse from Young Thug, and his unnerving howl is completely out of place on the otherwise inoffensive effort.
Ultimately, this album is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Post has developed several elements which peaked out on the last release. He’s taking his wide-ranging influences more seriously, successfully incorporating rock and folk in a brilliant way. He also has lost a step in his talent for writing excellent hooks and working with strong features, for the most part.
Unfortunately, he’s still failed to learn from the mistake which has plagued every single release in his catalog: his insistence on including seemingly every idea that comes to his mind on the final album line-up. Because of this, the record is far too long with poor pacing, and the entire last third, with the exception of the closer, feels entirely half baked and underdeveloped.
Despite this, the album is a blast. Its shining moments are blinding and its weak points can easily be ignored. It’s just a shame that poor pacing and a few annoying features keep the LP from living up to its predecessors.
Hollywood’s Bleeding is a fun listen that doesn’t quite meet it’s full potential.