Don Toliver is the king of crochet. The Houston rapper and singer returned to the melodic hip-hop scene in 2020 after being featured alongside legends like Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, The Weeknd, Swae Lee and 21 Savage on “ASTROWORLD,” the album Grammy nominated for Travis Scott. It takes a certain type of performance to steal the show from this list of feature films and from Scott himself, but Toliver managed to do it on the track “CAN’T SAY”, which is often considered the best feature film. of the album because of the writing and phenomenal melodies.
Three days after the collaboration, Scott signed Toliver to his label Cactus Jack Records and has since transformed him into a leading figure in the contemporary rap scene. Toliver is a hard-working worker, and his constant train of eye-catching features in addition to Scott’s mentorship has helped his rapid rise to fame.
Toliver released their long-awaited second studio album “Heaven or Hell” in 2020, which spawned hits such as “No Idea”, “Can’t Feel My Legs”, “After Party” and “Had Enough”. The project was well received aside from criticism that Toliver sticks to surface themes and struggles to find its own sound, drawing too much on Scott’s style. Toliver and Scott are both esteemed for the psychedelic and melodic soundscape they create, and fans hoped that Toliver would differentiate himself from his mentor and reach a more personal level in terms of lyrics on his third studio album, “Life of a Don “, which was released October 8.
“What You Need” showcases Toliver’s vocals and melodic writing, while “Drugs N Hella Melodies” features the soft and passionate voice of Toliver’s girlfriend, singer Kali Uchis. These two previously released singles are some of the album’s most intimate moments, as Toliver taps into soundscapes full of woozy synths and soul and R&B influenced melodies.
Other highlights of the album include “5X”, produced by famed Mike Dean, which balances dynamic drums, clean 808s, and Toliver’s laid-back vocals. “Way Bigger” comes in with energy and powerful bass as Toliver begins, “I have bass but it hits a lot harder.” “Swangin ‘on Westheimer” feels close and personal and evolves into a slow, pop-influenced track.
“Double Standards” is the pinnacle of Toliver’s lyricism on the album, with introspective lines such as: “It’s so hard to be human / It’s so hard to live and learn with all your mistakes.” and “Look at me, I’m not that perfect, I had about 20 girls in Austin / It’s like three or four a week (Yeah) I’m putting together, at least I’m being honest.”
Toliver contradicts the emotional maturity displayed in his personal thinking with a sense of detachment, singing, “Unlike anything, I don’t really need it / It might hurt you.” Toliver also presents this detachment in “Company Pt 2”, in which he sings “She so in love with me / I can’t pardonner it baby”.
An eight-minute documentary titled “Behind the ‘Don Toliver’s’ Life of a Gift” at the end of the album – only available to Apple Music listeners – reflects on several of the project’s themes. Toliver discusses his growth from ‘Heaven or Hell’, saying, “I just know there were some things that I really wanted to be able to express, that I couldn’t express, that I know for a fact that I expressed on this piece. next job. ”
The outro on “Outerspace (feat. Baby Keem)” alludes to Scott’s influence on Toliver with his guitar solo and chirping chords. Several clips from the album appear to have been “ASTROWORLD” tracks, but that’s not surprising given that the two artists coexist in the same subgenre – and because Scott has two features on the project. The energies of Toliver and Scott collide in an inimitable way on “You (feat. Travis Scott)”. The ebb and flow of their worms naturally drift into each other. Oscillating synths and earthy basses create a ripple in the sonic atmosphere.
Toliver also explains in the documentary video how he “didn’t want to sound like everyone” and worked on “experimenting with my voice, experimenting with what I was saying”. His experimentation and unique style can be heard on tracks like “Swangin ‘On Westheimer”, “2AM” and “XSCAPE”.
Toliver wobbles slightly on the tracks “2AM”, “Smoke (feat. HVN & SoFaygo)” and “Get Throwed” due to their repetitive nature and lack of lyrical substance. catchy choruses, carefully crafted melodies and energy redeem it.
Toliver succeeds in achieving the goals he set for himself. He strengthens himself as a capable artist, solidifies his style and proves his ability to evolve beyond too simple lyricism over several pieces. “Life of a Don” is a bold statement that demands respect.