Most musicians with barbed wire face tattoos aren’t usually thought of as being highly skilled, multi-genre spanning artists. Rather, they are expected to be one-dimensional mumble rappers whose monthly achievement is gaining 20 misguided SoundCloud followers.
This is not the case for Post Malone, however, who showcases his flexibility as an artist on his latest studio project “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” released Sept. 6. Malone, who takes pride in his music’s evasion from any specific genre, focuses this album on all the problems he has noticed in L.A. culture since his rise to stardom. The overall tone of this project is much more cynical than his previous albums that focus on a care-free party lifestyle.
Opening the album with the title track, Malone immediately criticizes Hollywood for turning people into shells of themselves, either by forcing them to resort to drugs or by taking advantage of them in some way. He describes how he feels the life being sucked out of him when he’s there, comparing all the toxic people to vampires. Malone attempts to provide a meta-analysis of all the things wrong with the city that brought him to fame, one example being how Hollywood romanticizes artists dying young.
A lighter, less aggressive trap beat accompanies Malone, Future and Halsey on “Die For Me” where the three discuss untrustworthy partners. Malone gives all sorts of reasons why he no longer trusts a woman in his life, especially after some of her actions. “Remember when you got my a** arrested (Wow)/At least when I was in jail, I got some rest in (Yeah),” Malone sings.
Future’s verse also puts the blame on the woman, saying it’s her fault they’re having issues. “Got a bad girl, I was treating her too nice/Caught you being vulnerable, that ain't what I need,” he raps. However, Halsey provides a counter perspective from a woman’s point of view, referencing times where she had been cheated on. “Brought some strangers in our beds/And now you lost your right to privacy/Spilling all our secrets/When you thought they'd probably die with me,” she sings.
Rock ‘n’ Roll legend and Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne takes the chorus on “Take What You Want,” which, complete with a verse from Travis Scott, makes up the ninth track of Malone’s 17-song record. It’s obvious this track is where Post Malone decides to release his inner rockstar. It begins with a lone guitar and strained vocals from Ozzy. A raw verse from Travis Scott acts as a contemporary balance point to the track and smoothly leads back into Osbourne’s chorus just to set up the wildest, most rockin’ guitar solo I’ve heard all summer.
On an interlude-like track produced by Kanye West, who is back on a Twitter hiatus of his own, Post Malone discusses issues plaguing him that all end up leading back to the Web. “Internet” is a PSA from Malone about why he has decreased the amount of time he spends online, mostly due to him being completely fed up with the facades people put up on social media. Malone emphasizes the idea of ignorance being bliss — if he doesn’t go online, then he is going to be the last one to know about whatever critics say about him.
The first single released to promote the album, “Wow.” ends the album and is where Malone boasts about his celebrity lifestyle. In the second verse he even references his 2016 hit “Congratulations,” a similarly themed song where he raps about getting compliments from everyone he meets for making it in the music business. Malone is indicating that he has made improvements, and his followers have gone from simply congratulating him to genuinely being impressed and amazed.
“Hollywood’s Bleeding” is the addition Post Malone needed in his catalogue, proving he really is the multi-faceted artist he claims to be through the pop- and rap-filled tracks of his debut “Stoney,” to more rock-driven songs on “Beerbongs and Bentleys.”
While his newest release still features the same hip-hop/pop aspects Malone has utilized on all his other works, on “Hollywood’s Bleeding” he uses his massive platform to highlight issues he sees within his industry as well as in himself.