Sex, drugs, fame: Don Toliver’s latest album “Life of a DON” is captivating and unique


Don Toliver has positioned itself as his own hardest act to follow after his nearly flawless debut studio album, “Heaven or hell,” was certified gold. The Houston rapper, 27, cemented his place in the rap elite with his silky smooth voice, irresistible hooks and astral sound. He came out loud from the door and showed no sign of slowing down.

Toliver released his second album, “The life of a DON”On October 8, and on this project it is evident that he cemented his sound signature and reputation in hip-hop and rhythm and blues (R&B). This album stays true to its euphoric aesthetic and lyrical representations of sex, drugs and fame.

But this time he picks up the tempo with a trap-and-smoky-inspired production that is at times punchy, heartwarming and moving to others, pleasantly contradicting himself.

Toliver has carefully curated a small class of features to elevate the album, including Travis Scott, Kali Uchis, Baby Keem, HVN and SoFaygo. His choice to include just three major artists on the album is refreshing and shows his desire to only include artists who synthesize and add to his vision, rather than recruiting a team of big names just to maximize flows.

Toliver is a protégé by Travis Scott, and is signed to his label, Cactus Jack Records. With Travis Scott as a mentor and a group of talented artists signed to the label, including SoFaygo and Sheck Wes, Toliver is the embodiment of a natural talent who had the right opportunity to become one of the most talented artists by taking control of the game.

Toliver and Scott collaborate twice on “Life of a DON”: once on “Flocky Flocky”, a disappointing generic performance by the duo that seems chaotic and rushed, and a second time on “You “, a highlight of the album which redeems the duo. The track is sensual and rhythmic, with a captivating introduction, because the two artists harmonize, “You couldn’t do better, baby / Your lips taste like candy cane.”

The album’s introduction, “XSCAPE,” takes a serene approach, welcoming listeners into the sleek and moody tracks that follow. Shortly after, the artist picks up the tempo after “XSCAPE”, with the entertaining, smooth and bouncy “5X” and the “Way Bigger” with heavy and energetic, but calm percussion.

The four-track series initiated by the album’s lead single and one of the most polished tracks in Toliver’s discography, “What You Need”, shows its most vulnerable side and is the most impressive set of “Life of a DON”.

“Double Standards” showcases its dominance in both trap sound and R&B ballads as it darkly expresses the struggles that come with fame through its melancholy and engaging sound. lyricism like, “It’s so hard to be human / It’s so hard to live and learn with all of your mistakes.”

“Double Standards” is followed by “Swangin ‘On Westheimer”, the highlight of the project, and is one of the best slow jams of the year. This track is both refined and sublime with its real R&B vocals and rich synth instrumental. What is most impressive about this track is Toliver’s absorption into his energy as listeners can feel him release his perception of space and completely lose himself in the track.

The four-track set ends with another single, “Drugs N Hella Melodies”, where Toliver collaborates with his girlfriend, Kali Uchis, for an exciting and therapeutic R&B track. The hazy production mixes with the alluring, whispered voice of Uchis and the silky, luxurious voice of Toliver as the couple cleverly compare drugs, sex, and romance in a standout performance.

“2AM” continues the momentum of the album, moving to more experimental tracks in the second half of “Life of a DON”. This track showcases Toliver’s vibrato and range over a hard, trap beat mixed with melodic piano notes. Although this track lacks cohesion between its production and its vocals, it is an intriguing song that brings variety to the album.

“Get Throwed” begins with a piano sample that hints at a reflective track, before flipping the script around and transforming into an upbeat, repetitive track about having casual sex. Nonetheless, it’s definitely eye-catching.

“Company Pt 2” had high expectations to meet its outstanding predecessor on “Heaven Or Hell”. At “SocietyToliver longs for a wife he’s had, and on his follow-up, he realizes he’s moved on. While the new track isn’t as compelling as the first, its production, courtesy of Boomin Metro, presents some of the most masterful and fascinating rhythms of the entire album.

Baby Keem appears on the next track, “OUTERSPACE”, a two-part piece separated by a change of pace in Baby Keem’s signature style. Toliver and Baby Keem are a hypnotic duo, and on this track we see Toliver step into the world and style of his counterpart, rather than welcoming it into his own.

While HVN and SoFaygo aren’t at all new to the game, “Smoke” invites them to step into the world of Toliver and the upper echelon of the industry for a major moment in their careers. With an eye-catching hook, “Smoke” lets the trio savor their lavish lifestyle.

The last two tracks on the album couldn’t be more different, with “Crossfaded” a heartwarming uplifted pop bang and “BOGUS” a dark and eerie conclusion that is surprisingly similar to his mentor’s sound.

Overall, “Life of a DON” showcases Toliver’s ability to create unforgettable moments while strengthening his identity and brand in the industry, although it is slightly less cohesive than “Heaven or Hell”. and certainly not flawless. Nonetheless, this album delivers a unique, heartwarming and captivating work that is unlike any other mainstream artist at this time. Toliver’s moment is here, and through it, he truly created the life of a gift.


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