Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Saturday, October 23, 2021 — Houston, TX °

Review: Don Toliver adds more variety to his sound in his sophomore release, ‘Life of a DON’

life-of-a-don-courtesy-atlantic-records
Photo courtesy Atlantic Records

By Jacob Pellegrino     10/13/21 1:11am

Review: ★★★½

Top Tracks:  “Flocky Flocky (feat. Travis Scott)”

        “Drugs N Hella Melodies (feat. Kali Uchis)”



“Life of a DON” is a much more varied effort than Don Toliver’s “Heaven or Hell” (2020), a variety that pays off and makes for good listening. Toliver maintains his distinctive autotuned sound while working more nuance into his work.

The album begins with “XSCAPE,” a song which works off of a classic sounding horn loop and the juxtaposition of a more autotuned chorus and a cleaner verse. Combined with synth hits that begin later in the song and a swirling synthesizer groove that would feel at place in the soundtrack to a movie like “Blade Runner,” “XSCAPE” is an interesting combination of a calmer rap style and older production elements. The song has a feeling that would be perfect for a vignette of a character sitting alone in a neon-lit bar or club, the light slightly illuminating their face as crowds move around in the distance, contemplating a lost love or silently hoping for a new one. Don Toliver’s lyrics detail a hope for a relationship from a girl who “finally realized that [another man] put [her] second” after what seems like a significant amount of longing.

“Flocky Flocky” features a highly-anticipated collaboration between Toliver and label-head Travis Scott. Scott’s verse is particularly effective on the track while Toliver’s chorus provides a nice melody to contrast the verses. The song uses a vague image-based storytelling technique that flows well with the totality of the album. I am not sure what “flocky flocky” means in the context of the song, but I definitely enjoy the track.

“Drugs N Hella Melodies” sees Don unite with girlfriend Kali Uchis for a melodic love song. Uchis’ smooth vocals work really well for an intoxicating refrain that opens up the song and gives it room to breathe. Don and Kali’s vocals flow nicely together and create a nice, easy listen. The track works on an R&B feeling that gives an emotion-filled sense of relaxation to the song.

“Life of a DON” is a strong sophomore effort that builds on Toliver’s first album and past features to create a varied and multi-faceted album. With songs that range from calmer, more downbeat tracks to more energetic autotuned rap, the album is still a unified effort that exemplifies Don Toliver’s sound.



More from The Rice Thresher

A&E 10/19/21 10:22pm
Spice it Up: Fall Playlist

Now that fall and the return of autumn seasonal drinks have finally rolled around, it is time to (pumpkin) spice up our playlists. Whether you use Spotify or Apple Music (and, yes, there is a correct answer), here are some good options to add to your queue. This playlist offers plenty of different genres and languages, ranging from Funk to Bossa Nova and from Korean to Hebrew that you may not have heard before. 

A&E 10/19/21 10:20pm
Dining on a budget near campus

By this point in the semester, it’s understandable to begin lacking emotional excitement for servery food. We’ve all had our fair share of grilled chicken, caesar salads and fries, which have become somewhat repetitive for the palate. Luckily, Houston is a culinary extravaganza for lovers of all cuisines. If you’re looking for new, fresh bites, take a look at four affordable restaurants close to campus for your next meal.

A&E 10/19/21 10:18pm
Review: FINNEAS’s pervasive hopefulness and emotional songwriting shine in ‘Optimist’

“Optimist” expands upon FINNEAS’s melancholy songwriting and production skills to create a compelling and interesting debut album. FINNEAS is largely known for collaborations with his sister, Billie Eilish, who he produces and co-writes songs with. However, he also previously released an excellent EP, “Blood Harmony,” and an array of singles. FINNEAS’s first full-length album continues the lyricism seen in previous stand-out tracks like “I Lost a Friend” and “I Don’t Miss You at All,” albeit with a slightly different feeling reminiscent of Billie’s more introspective “Happier Than Ever.”


Comments

Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.