Writing this review pains me, if I’m being honest. In spite of his trendsetting talent, Post Malone irks me. It’s not so much who he is but rather what he represents. Popular music has never been blander than it is right now. Labels incentivize their money-makers to drop bloated albums due to their incessant greed. By hogging the majority of music-related profits, they force artists to claw for what belongs to them. As a result, we receive tiresome, forgettable projects year after year. Frankly, it makes me sick. On his third album Post Malone delivers yet another average collection of songs. He represents what bothers me the most about my generation. Everyone wants to be the greatest. But nobody wants to execute greatness on a consistent basis. Post Malone is not a bad artist by any stretch of the imagination. However, he has not earned his mogul mode status.
In his interview with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, Post admits he has no intention on making hit records. When he’s in the studio, he only wants to make what feels good to him. This sentiment appears prominently on “I’m Gonna Be.” He is unapologetic in his approach. And I like that about him. At the moment his focus resides in distributing French wine and streetwear. I’m all for artists branching out and trying new things. It’s their life at the end of the day. Nevertheless, Malone’s studio efforts continue to underwhelm me. While I did enjoy most of beerbongs & bentleys, it’s not a record I return to often. As a matter of fact, I never do. But there are great songs on that album without a doubt. Last year he seemed to be taking a step in the right direction by prioritizing artistry over brand… How quickly things change.
Urban contemporary artists garner so much attention that it’s difficult to tell who will actually become a legend. Post Malone is rich as fuck. That is a feat in and of itself. Yet without hit records, he wouldn’t have a career. He is a pop artist who uses elements of rock, country, and trap to make a unique sonic gumbo. I support him in general. However, with every new Post album I’m reminded that talent and creativity are not one and the same. He has plenty of songwriting talent and an unmistakable voice. He’s leaps and bounds ahead of your average singer-songwriter. But hit records aren’t always just about appeasing to a specific (or hyper-generic) audience. Many of the best songs make waves because they mean something. Even if the substance of the song isn’t that deep. A mindful club banger means a lot for a certain type of artist.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? When an artist like Post Malone, one who eats off of fire singles, says he doesn’t want to make hit records, it makes me think that he no longer wants to put in the work. If you wanna craft fine wine, be my guest. But there has to be passion behind what you’re making. Otherwise, what’s the point? Money, that’s what. Financial stability is incredibly important. Yet if what you want to do right now is make wine and clothing, then make wine and clothing. And do it to the best of your ability. Please, for the love of art, don’t spread your already shaky creative direction thinner than it can withstand. Hollywood’s Bleeding is a forgettable, purposeless record. Too many rough ideas were shipped out as finished products. He keeps getting a pass despite never truly striving for next-level craftsmanship.
Since I’ve been generalizing a lot here, I’ll go into some specifics real quick before I go. The songs I actually did enjoy on Hollywood’s Bleeding are few, though I acknowledge this isn’t a garbage record. “Enemies,” featuring DaBaby is oh so catchy. The Charlotte rapper performs as well as he ever has. Additionally, the subsequent track “Allergic” sees Post try his hand at pop-punk. At first, I wasn’t feeling it but the more I listened the more I appreciated it. It’s a concise exhibition of his versatility. Also, “Die for Me” with Future and Halsey stood out from the rest. The active, atmospheric vibe suits all of their styles well. Halsey’s performance in particular exuded a fervor missing from a bulk of these tracks. And I loved Ozzy Osbourne on “Take What You Want.” Post wrote great sections for him and Future on this album.
Conversely, the album has plenty of passable pop-rap songs that go in one ear and out the other. For me, at least. “Hollywood’s Bleeding” opens the album decently yet fails at setting a thematic tone. The concept of Hollywood being a place full of people trying to suck the life out of you 24/7 is an intriguing starting point. Who knows where that subject could take us? Unfortunately, we’ll never find out. Because what follows is a half-serious mix of trite rap persona and sugary pop ballads. “Sunflower,” the song for the Into the Spider-Verse . . . . Yeah, I just wish it was never made. That’s me hating very hard. It’s too cheesy for my palette nonetheless. In conclusion, this album is undoubtedly listenable but lacks any type of staying power. Here the Texas native plays more of a salesman role than that of a thoughtful director.