Life of a DON - Don Toliver
Don Toliver's second studio album, Life of a DON has finally dropped after several delays. With Don originally promising the album by the end of the August and being silent until October, where he silently released the date and track list and having the album drop earlier this week. LoaD has been highly anticipated throughout 2021 with him featuring with A-List artists like Kanye West, Baby Keem and Internet Money. He has been scorching hot since featuring on Travis Scott's 2018 record ASTROWORLD, eventually signing to him. He has grown a strong fanbase but the reception of Life of a DON may ultimately determine if he's here to stay.
The intro track XSCAPE sets the tone for the rest of Life of a DON with its spacey environment and it also has a nice horn woven in. Don's singing is nice here and the strong outro makes a more pleasant transition into the rest of the album. 5X picks up the pace with a high tempo beat that is perfect for one of Don's most entrancing choruses yet; as well as offering a rare occasion that we hear Don's real, unedited voice while he raps a fun but pitched down verse. The following Way Bigger features another amazing and catchy chorus. Don's verses here are good as well and the instrumental exudes psychedelic and spacey vibes but his chorus is what steals the spotlight.
The synths and strings and the way they interact on Flocky Flocky's instrumental make for an extremely hypnotic moment on the album. Don's singing is clouded and melts into the atmosphere created by the instrumental perfectly. Travis's verse here is pretty great and the way he uses his voice only adds more to the psychedelic soundscape. What You Need was the first single released before LoaD and it gave us a good idea of what to expect from the album. Don's chorus is mesmerizing and he brings so much intoxicating energy to this mysterious and atmospheric instrumental. His singing on this track is angelic. Double Standards instrumental is spacey with some nice strings and bridges. Don sings about his toxic and having double standards in this emphatic singing performance. The instrumental here progresses nicely as well as it continues to build this spaced out, drug induced world that Don puts you in.
The build up to Swangin' On Westheimer's beat drop could be a bit boring, but once it does, the song really starts. The instrumental creates an emotionally heavy and spacey soundscape and it's just in a pocket of its own. Don's passionate singing adds even more weight to the track and overall it's a beautiful moment on the album. Drugs N Hella Melodies was the second single released off Life of a DON with a beautiful, dazed and atmospheric instrumental. Kali Uchis and Don Toliver have great chemistry while singing and their choruses melt into the trippy instrumental and make for a drug induced and romantic experience. 2AM sounds very similar to a Travis Scott song while maintaining the aesthetic created by the rest of LoaD. Don's singing here is so great and he flows very nicely on his verses.
Get Throwed's instrumental has a typical sounding trap beat but the drums and keys keep it sounding vibrant. Don's flow is super smooth and not to mention the repetitious yet hypnotic chorus that makes the track fun. Company Pt 2 is catchy and the instrumental is spirited with its fast hi hats but overall it's the blandest song on the album. The instrumental on OUTERSPACE is fun and fast paced as Baby Keem comes through with a high energy verse that transitions swiftly into a sung verse by Don Toliver who hits some high chords and they sound great together. When the beat switches the track shifts from fun to consequential swiftly. The latter half of the track is heavy and sounds a lot more climactic than the former. Don continues his verse and sounds even better than before and Keem comes once again and delivers another high energy performance over an emphatic outro that has some strong electric guitar.
The instrumental on Smoke is exotic and bouncy but still manages to fit into the psychedelic and outer space like aesthetic. HVN's chorus is repetitive and his verse isn't great but he fits well onto this track and SoFaygo can be obnoxious but he brings some good energy to the track. Neither compare to Don on here despite his absence from most of the song. You with Travis Scott is slowed down and spaced out with a nice rhythm to it. Don's singing is great and his ability to use his voice as an instrument amazes me yet again. Travis's verse is nice but his singing fails to compare to Don's and the way the beat progresses into a climactic outro is breathtaking. Crossfaded is upbeat and bouncy and features a stunning performance from Don Toliver. From his slick and energetic verse to his entrancing and electric hook, Don just creates a pulse of energy near the end of the record, and one of my favorites off of it. The outro, BOGUS has a fun and vibrant chorus and an enjoyable verse from Don. It's not the greatest conclusion but it proves Don can be consistent for an entire album.
Don Toliver shows off his growth and proves he'll have longevity in the rap game on Life of a DON. All of his choruses are not just entertaining, but entrancing and hypnotic. The atmosphere Don builds is psychedelic and spacey throughout the record, while keeping the individual songs unique. I think it was smart of Don to push back the release as LoaD is the perfect nighttime autumn album with it's dark and atmospheric sound. He leveled up his outro's and production as a whole on this album, likely with the help of Travis Scott. There's not much lyrical content other than drugs and women but that's not what you got to Don Toliver for. It is his spacey trap production and ability to use his voice as an instrument that make Life of a DON great.