First Impression: Don Toliver – Heaven Or Hell

An Intro To Don Toliver

Don Toliver is a 25 year old rapper from Houston, Texas, who began releasing music in 2017 and since then has had quite a quick rise into the mainstream. In May of 2017 he linked up Yungjosh93 for a collaborative mixtape titled ‘Player Familia’, and followed that up with a couple of solo singles in ‘Diva’ & ‘I Gotta’. Early in 2018 he signed to Atlantic Records and then released a bunch more solo singles throughout the year. In August of 2018 he released his debut mixtape ‘Donny Womack’.

Don received one of the biggest boosts to his career just 1 day after the release of his mixtape, when he was featured on the song ‘Can’t Say’ from Travis Scott’s Astroworld album. The success of the song led to it receiving a Saint Laurent sponsored video, and to Don Toliver being signed to Travis Scott’s ‘Cactus Jack’ record label. Throughout 2019 Don released a number of singles on the Cactus Jack label, with the most notable being ‘No Idea’. ‘No Idea’ was later remixed and went viral on Tik Tok in November of 2019. Toliver closed out 2019 by collaborating with the rest of the Cactus Jack label for the compilation album ‘JackBoys’. Toliver opened up 2020 with a feature on Eminem’s ‘No Regrets’, before announcing that he would be supporting The Weeknd on his upcoming ‘After Hours’ tour.

And that brings us to now! On 13th of March 2020 Don Toliver releases his debut album ‘Heaven Or Hell’. The album has 12 tracks and features from Travis Scott, Offset, Quavo, Sheck Wes & Kaash Paige. The album contains 3 previously released singles; No Idea was released in May 2019, Can’t Feel My Legs in December of 2019, and Had Enough also in December of 2019. Below I’m going to review the album in 2 parts, first will be my informal track by track observations, and afterwards will be my thoughts on the album as a whole. I’ll include links to stream the album and some discussion questions at the end. Enjoy!

Track By Track Review

1. Heaven Or Hell – Don shows some great versatility in his delivery, sounds great. The rhymes are decent too and the flows are okay. Lyrically it’s pretty basic. The auto tuned crooning in the background combined with the spacey synths give the song this real atmospheric vibe. Song overall feels a bit messy, has no obvious structure and lots of sections with no vocals. Okay track, just a basic intro really

2. Euphoria (ft. Travis Scott & Kaash Paige) – Super Simple Beat, isn’t too exciting. Really enjoy Kaash Paige’s voice and melodies, nice addition. Travis has his usual auto tuned delivery with some quite basic flows and bars. More impressive delivery’s from Don, flows well too. Song didn’t really go anywhere, lacked something. Dragged on too long too. Average song, felt like a long interlude

3. Cardigan – Real catchy hook to start the song, love Dons delivery on it. Verse is decent too, flows are simple but the bars and rhymes are enjoyable. Actually this doesn’t really have a verse, has like 2 hooks that he alternated between. Beat is quite simple again but has an addictive bass, helps certain vocals hit real hard. Pretty straightforward song but it’s well executed, lots of catchy rhymes schemes and a great hook to bring it all together. Strangely structured, but decent song overall

4. After party – Big fan of the brass instrumentation in this, has a great bass too. Overall a real exciting beat. This is a banger, hook hits hard and is real catchy. Unfortunately Don’s flows and delivery on the first verse is quite average, and even unenjoyable at times. Easily my favourite hook so far. Second verse has some highs and lows but overall is just average. Love the beat and the hook, but song overall falls flat, on the fence.

5. Wasted – Beat is quite simple but I enjoy the singing by Don in the background, adds a much needed layer. The usual delivery from Don in the first verse, flows really well though and has some decent bars too. Hook is just okay, sounds pleasant but isn’t too special and has unneeded repetition. Second verse is just average, sounds good but has nothing that stands out. Okay song

6. Can’t Feel My Legs – Another average beat with real enjoyable bass. Hook has some really solid bars with some great rhymes, really enjoy Dons flow and delivery on it too. Second part of the hook is catchy and has just the right amount of repetition. Verse is really enjoyable, has a great delivery and hits real hard, is way too short though. Like 14 bars of hook and 4 bar verse wtf. Second verse hits real hard too, much more hungry delivery from Don than usual, great contrast with the hook too. Another song with an odd structure but I enjoyed the whole thing, real good song

7. Candy – Song has this weird like old school vibe at the start, Don sounds like a sample. Basic beat again, nothing stands out. Dons delivery isn’t too exciting on this, nothing new or exciting. Lots of unneeded repetition too. Don’s flows are basic and his delivery is straight up unenjoyable at times during the verses. Best part of the song is the guitar that makes an appearance a couple minutes in. Below average song overall, is messy as a whole and has some unpleasant parts

8. Company – Fairly average flows and delivery from Don on the hook, and the rhymes and bars are real basic. Has sections with no vocals, but unfortunately the beat is simple and unexciting again. Verses don’t have anything that stands out at unique or exciting. Another song that feels messy in the way it’s composed. Below average overall

9. Had Enough (ft. Quavo & Offset) – Really enjoy Dons melody on the hook, strange delivery but it works well. Verse has some basic flows and bars but Don flows really well over the instrumental, decent verse. Offset brings a much needed energy to the song and the album, great high energy verse that isn’t anything special but stands out. Really enjoy the Quavo verse/outro too, is simple but sounds really nice and is a good way to wrap up the track. Enjoy the little bit from Don at the end too. Good song overall

10. Spaceship (ft. Sheck Wes) – Beat is simple yet again, but sets this kinda haunting vibe. Bass is great too. Don’s delivery and flow on the hook isn’t too enjoyable, is simple and just doesn’t sound too pleasant. Don has some good rhymes at times but is average other than that. Sheck Wes brings a good energy to the track with this real hard hitting delivery, but the flows and bars aren’t very good, sounds a bit amateurish. Song had a kinda cool vibe but was real lacking overall. Average song

11. No Photos – don’t like the start of this, first 30 seconds is pointless. Really enjoy the delivery and the melodies on the hook though, is quite an enjoysble hook overall. Verse actually has some real solid flows and rhymes with a consistently enjoyable delivery. Another 20 seconds wasted after the first verse “huh huh”. Hook starts off slow but progresses really well, one of the better hooks on the album. Second verse is just as solid as the first, thoroughly enjoyable flows, delivery, and even bars. I hate how he has like 20 seconds of “huh” before each of the 3 hooks, this song would be great if you cut out that minute. Overall a decent song, on the fence

12. No Idea – opening verse has some super addictive delivery from Don, solid rhyme scheme and flow throughout too. Hook is strange but oddly enjoyable, has 2 distinct sections with this ridiculous change of delivery between the two, is all very catchy and flows amazingly though. The section between the first and second hook is pointless, just a whole lot more unneeded repetition. Enjoy the final verse, ends the song really well with more solid rhymes and an enjoyable delivery. Song has highs and lows, is just average overall

Album Review

Overall I felt like this was quite a boring album, and is one I can’t see myself listening to in full ever again. Going into it I was eager to see what else Don Toliver has to offer apart from his interesting voice, and in the end I felt like he really didn’t have too much else that interested me. With a lack of exciting production, features, and performances from Don himself this whole album felt quite bland, and apart from a couple songs lacked the individuality or creativity that I was hoping to experience.

The album had some high points and moments of greatness, but unfortunately they were quite rare. Probably the strongest part of the project were the hooks, which at times were insanely catchy such as on ‘Cardigan’, ‘After Party’ and ‘No Photos’, the last of which is ruined by some unnecessary repetition leading into each hook. ‘Can’t Feel My Legs’ was the only song that I thought had thoroughly enjoyable verses and a great hook. I also enjoyed the song ‘Had Enough’, but that was more so due to some enjoyable features from both Offset and Quavo. Apart from the hooks Don had an enjoyable and intriguing delivery at times, but it isn’t interesting enough to carry the album and therefore gets a little annoying by the end.

Everything else on this album was below average in my opinion. I thought some of the features such as Travis Scott & Sheck Wes were disappointing. I felt the production was quite basic and lacked exciting qualities on almost every song. And most of all, I felt like Don Toliver himself was boring for a majority of the album, with a voice that gets annoying after a few songs and a lack of impactful lyrics or impressive flows. All these things combined just made this feel like a chore to get through despite the short run time.

So in summary I wasn’t a fan of this album, once I’d become accustomed to Dons interesting voice a couple of songs in I felt like the rest of the album lacked any interesting or unique qualities. With average beats and features it was up to Don to deliver solid performances, and unfortunately I felt he fell short almost all the time. I listened to this out of curiosity, and am glad I did because I now know that Don Toliver isn’t as interesting as some of his features may suggest. I think from here on I’ll continue checking out his features, but probably won’t be listening to any future projects unless he changes something up.

Final Notes

You can stream the album on Spotify here, or on Apple Music here!

Or you can listen for free on YouTube here!

My favourite songs were ‘Can’t Feel My Legs’ & ‘Had Enough’.

What were your favourite songs on ‘Heaven Or Hell’?

What is the better project out of this and ‘Danny Womack’?

Thanks For Reading!

– Shan –

One thought on “First Impression: Don Toliver – Heaven Or Hell

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