They say to not bite the hand that feeds you, and so far in 2023, Don Toliver is one of the only artists to feed the rap community. His February album “Love Sick,” a 20-track project, is Toliver’s attempt at mixing his melodic voice over a slew of different trap and R&B beats with certain artists you’d never imagine him working with.
Toliver’s young career has been anything but quiet with his first two studio albums “Heaven or Hell,” and “Life of a DON,” solidifying the artist as one of rap’s hottest rookies. However, Toliver’s greatest success may have come from his features on one of 2022’s best albums, Metro Boomin’s “HEROES & VILLAINS.”
Metro’s album featured stars like Travis Scott, 21 Savage and Future but it was Toliver who shined the brightest. Now, three months later, “Love Sick” is Toliver making his case that he still hasn’t reached his prime.
Does he do that? Not to rain on Toliver’s parade, but no, not quite. Toliver’s performance on “Love Sick” doesn’t top what he’s done on his previous albums or features. This shouldn’t take away from the overall quality of “Love Sick,” though. The production is top notch thanks to Wheezy and Hit-Boy, to name a few, and Toliver gives us some catchy sound bites that become irresistible with that raspy voice of his.
The hour-long project kicks off with Toliver linking back up with the man who signed him to Cactus Jack Records in 2018, Travis Scott. Toliver and Scott work well together, and it’s seemingly a smart move for Toliver to use “Embarrassed” to set the tone for the rest of the album.
However, the songs following could have been left out all together. “Luckily I’m Having” is an unsavable song. You shouldn’t be saving it to any playlist, and the atrocious feature from Teezo Touchdown makes the song unsavable for Toliver. He simply couldn’t do anything to make it listenable. Teezo’s performance on the song is one of worst in recent memory, and there isn’t enough autotune or editing in the world to fix his whiny voice.
Lucky for Toliver, “LoveSickness,” the next song on the album, is one that he takes on alone, and it’s a much easier listen. Fans get vintage Toliver on that track and everything from production to vocals hits on that song.
There’s a string of features following “LoveSickness,” and Toliver seemed to pick artists that didn’t match his vibe. It’s unknown if Toliver was aiming to broaden his horizons on this album, but it makes for a confusing listen.
In one moment Toliver ends a song with the gentle tones of UK singer James Blake. One track later, Memphis trap star GloRilla is screaming into the mic with fellow trap artist Lil Durk. Toliver fails to set a consistent mood, and not to mention, I’m still not over the crime Teezo committed on his sickening feature.
Kali Uchis and her heavenly voice reel the listeners back in. Toliver and Uchis have yet to make a bad song, which explains why she made an appearance on his last album and he has a feature on her 2023 album. Their song on this album, “4 Me,” could easily be the song of the summer. It’s the type of song that can be played on the beach and in the club, and fans are going to love how catchy it is for a while.
We get a break from the wildly random features with a three-song run that Toliver solos. The artist proves on this trio of songs that he does his best work when he’s left alone. “Honeymoon” is where he sounds most comfortable, and the beat from Kaytranada is one of the better crafted ones on the album.
There’s a smooth transition from “Honeymoon” to “Private Landing,” which features Future and Justin Beiber. While the songs blend together, the artists mix like water and oil. Beiber doesn’t belong on a song with Future, and it was hard not to cringe when he hops on the track trying to sound as rough and edgy as the Atlanta rapper.
It takes some time for the album to come back to life after a tough listen from Beiber, but a Hit-Boy beat was enough to wake me up for Toliver’s song with one of R&B’s hottest artists, Brent Faiyaz.
“Bus Stop” boasts itself as one of the more versatile songs on the project. It starts out quick with Toliver skating along on the beat. There’s a sped up sample looping in the background to set the tone, but as Faiyaz enters the picture everything naturally slows down. Faiyaz gracefully delivers those oh-so toxic lyrics he’s known for in a perfect way to wrap up “Love Sick.”
Written By: Nick Hancock