Don Toliver is a rising Hip Hop star that has intrigued me over the last couple of years. On the surface, Don Toliver has everything it takes to be an absolute superstar in the R&B Trap music world. He has a unique vocal style, a ton of range in his voice, and a variety of addicting flows he can rap with. He also is an artist that seems to have no boundaries on the type of Hip Hop music he will make; Don Toliver is not afraid to take risks, and he is willing to rap or sing on pretty much any kind of instrumental. Unfortunately to this point, Don Toliver has not been able to put out a fully great album. He has had a lot of great songs on his first couple of records, with many of these songs becoming hits, but the albums as a whole have felt disjointed. I was hoping that this would change with his third full-length project, Love Sick. I honestly believed this record would be a breakthrough, and that it would be a cohesive and great project. I am sad to say that this was not the case. Love Sick suffers from the same issues that his first couple of issues suffered from. This album feels super bloated. Do not get me wrong, this album has a lot of great music on it. There are a lot of filler tracks, though. Instead of making the album more concise to improve its quality, it seems like Don Toliver filled it with way too many unneeded tracks to hopefully capitalize on streaming numbers. I feel like if he would have reduced Love Sick by a few tracks and kept the best 10-12 songs, this album could be considered very good to great, but that did not happen. With that being said, there are still quite a few tracks from Love Sick that I enjoy a lot and I want to talk about, so below is a brief list of my favorite songs from the project. Let me know in the comments below what your favorite tracks from Love Sick are, and also comment on what you thought of the record as a whole.
LET HER GO FEAT. JAMES BLAKE
‘Let Her Go,’ which features James Blake, has the kind of aggressive energy we do not typically get from Don Toliver. It still has elements of the atmospheric and smooth R&B Trap we are used to hearing from him, but there are parts of this song that feel more belligerent than what he is known for. My favorite thing about this instrumental is how hard the bass bangs. The way it is paired with the trippy and otherworldly melody of this track gives the song such a distinctive sound. Don Toliver does his thing vocally on this song, but James Blake steals the show. His soft and high-pitched vocals contrast with the gritty nature of the instrumental so well. It is as if he is bringing light to the darkness in the track. ‘Let Her Go’ is the kind of Trap banger that I could see becoming a sleeper from this record that becomes popular many months from now.
4 ME FEAT. KALI UCHIS
‘4 Me,’ which features Kali Uchis, is easily one of the most intriguing songs on this project. I love then Don Toliver steps outside the box and takes risks, and this track is a good example of that. This track heavily samples Beenie Man’s classic Reggae Fusion song ‘Girls Dem Sugar.’ ‘4 Me’ basically feels like a modern version of that 90s hit. This melody sounds pretty cool with the current-sounding Trap beat that it has, so I enjoy this sample a lot. Reggae Trap fusion has been becoming bigger and bigger lately, and it is fun to see Don Toliver go in this direction. Don Toliver’s voice sounds awesome on this instrumental. His tone matches up with the colorful island melody perfectly; his vocals add a lot of life to the already bright and delightful instrumental. Unsurprisingly, Kali Uchis excels on this track. Due to her South American heritage(and experience with Latin American sounds) and general versatility, she slides on this track effortlessly and adds a layer of softness to the song it benefits from. ‘4 Me’ is a great interpolation of an already great track; I would love to hear Don Toliver go down this Latin road again in the future because it fits his voice well.
‘Leather Coat’ is another track that has a classic feeling to it. It uses an interpolation of the 80s R&B hit ‘All Around the World’ by Lisa Stanfield. This track contains two parts, with both parts feeling sexy and captivating in their own ways. The instrumental does not change much between these two parts; it seems like the second half of the song is a slightly slower and toned-down version of the first half. One thing I love about this track is how the drums are arranged. They have the sound(in the way they are played) of the kind of drums you would hear in a contemporary R&B track, with the speed and tempo of Trap music. This gives the song a retro yet current style. Don Toliver’s vocal style is pretty consistent throughout the song. It does feel a bit more dainty and subdued in the second half, but it does not change that much. I like this because it gives the whole song a cohesive feeling; this does not feel like two songs mashed into one. ‘Leather Coat’ shows off a softer and lighter side to Don Toliver that I enjoy a lot.
SLOW MOTION FEAT. WIZKID
There are two songs on the record(besides the 2022 single ‘Do It Right’ that I already knew) that truly stand out, and ‘Slow Motion’ featuring Wizkid is one of them. The influence of Wizkid is apparent from the start of this track, as the instrumental is undoubtedly influenced by Afrobeat music. I enjoy the way the Afrobeat sound was incorporated into this track a lot more than the way most other artists who have been doing this use Afrobeat. Instead of it just being another American artist stealing the Afrobeat sound, it is easy to hear that this is supposed to be an Afrobeat and Synth-Pop fusion. The way that modern Synth-Pop is fused with Afrobeat on this song is so fresh, and I commend Don Toliver and Wizkid for coming up with this new sound. Honestly, Don Toliver and Wizkid’s vocals do not majorly stand out on this track. They both ride the instrumental well and slide on it with ease, but they do not add anything extra to make the song pop. That is okay though because the song is enjoyable to listen to without either of them doing too much. ‘Slow Motion’ is a great example of Don Toliver trying something new and out of the ordinary that works out super well. I hope he continues to try out new sounds like this in the future.
DO IT RIGHT
‘Do It Right’ was the first single released in anticipation of this record. I became extremely excited about the project when I first heard this song. This was a song I had on repeat when it first came out. I still bump it frequently because it’s so cool and fun to listen to. I wish Don Toliver would have gone with more of this kind of music on this record because he excels at it. ‘Do It Right’ is a sultry R&B track with a 90s Hip Hop feel to it. When I hear this instrumental, I think of popular Neo-R&B artists like TLC or Aaliyah. This track uses a sample from the Funk Track ‘Take Your Time’ by the S.O.S band. It has a beat that gives the song a modern flair, making it appeal to older and younger R&B fans. Don Toliver’s smooth vocals ride the synths that make up this melody perfectly. He slides over the instrumental with ease, giving so much life to an already colorful instrumental. If you are a fan of sexy R&B music, ‘Do It Right’ is a song for you.
BUS STOP FEAT. BRENT FAIYAZ
‘Bus Stop’ featuring Brent Faiyaz is my other favorite song on this record. It is another instance where Don Toliver tries something completely new and different for him. Once again, this risk pays off greatly. This song is an interpolation of ‘I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind’ by Blackstreet. ‘Bus Stop’ is a song with two distinct sections; the first half has a Dance music sound that is influenced by UK Garage music and Drum N’ Bass music, and the second half has a smooth and steamy Synth-Heavy R&B Trap sound. Both sections of this song are interesting and engaging. Admittedly, I especially love the first half because it is so unique in the landscape of American music. If you are a big fan of Neo-R&B Trap music, though, you will enjoy the second half of the song a lot because it is high quality. I love how much versatility Don Toliver shows as a vocalist on this track. He proves once again that he can excel at many kinds of music. Brent Faiyaz compliments Don Toliver well, and I would love to hear more duets from these two because their respective tones go so well together. ‘Bus Stop’ is yet another example of Don Toliver doing something out of the ordinary and nailing it.
CINDERELLA FEAT. TORO Y MOI
Aside from ‘Let Her Go,’ ‘Cinderella,’ which features Toro Y Moi, is my favorite song on the record that has a traditional Trap sound. As you have probably noticed, most of my top songs from this project are instances where Don Toliver stepped outside the box and did something that was not mainstream. ‘Cinderella,’ however, is a pretty stereotypical Trap banger. There is nothing extraordinary about it from an instrumental standpoint. This instrumental reminds me a lot of the kind of Trap that Future and The Weeknd popularized in the mid to late 2010s(think of songs like ‘Coming Out Strong or ‘Low Life’). The main reason I like this song a lot is because of the vocal performances. Don Toliver rides this instrumental so well, and his range gives the song a lot of personality. Toro Y Moi compliments Don Toliver so well, as his harsher and deeper tone adds texture to the track(almost like Future does with The Weeknd). This song has banger energy all over it, and I would not be surprised if it ends up being a major hit from this record.