Don Toliver Remains Consistent on New Album “Love Sick”

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Don Toliver has described his latest album as “futuristic R&B and soul.” (Courtesy of Twitter)

Maribelle Gordon, Contributing Writer

Don Toliver released his third studio album entitled “Love Sick” on Feb. 24, and the diversity of the sounds in the album highlight the rapper’s unique artistic image and creativity. With features ranging from James Blake, to Future and Justin Bieber and even his own significant other Kali Uchis, there is a wide variety of musical styles integrated into this album which the artist has previously described as “futuristic R&B and soul.” The project demonstrates Toliver’s consistency as an artist, both in his ability to produce hits and  maintain a specific sonic identity. 

The original album features 16 tracks, with a deluxe edition that includes four  additional songs, mostly exploring themes of love from different perspectives. Songs like “4 Me,” featuring Uchis, celebrate the idea of being romantic and head over heels for one’s partner. Several songs also explore the relationship between sex and romance, like the first single off of the album “Do It Right.” Finally, highlighting the “sick” aspect of this album, songs like “Honeymoon” discuss the turbulence of romance. The song begins with the lyrics “I love you / But I can hate you at the same time” which is a phrase that Toliver specifically highlights as significant to the album’s overall message. 

The theme is a unique aspect of this album, as the rap scene today is not typically associated with commentary on romantic love in the way it is presented on “Love Sick.” The artistic vision for this project is also worth noting. The creative direction and artwork accompanying this album showcase the blend of futurism and nostalgia that can be heard in the music itself. The artist even created a short film with visuals that underscore the consistent themes throughout the album. 

The Cactus Jack artist first started receiving serious attention  after being featured on Travis Scott’s “Astroworld” album and saw massive success with his debut studio album “Heaven or Hell.” He is known for his unique voice, a higher pitched but smooth sound that compliments his music style well. 

It is hard to see this album doing as well as his debut project, as although some of the thematic and sonic elements are unique in a general sense, some songs take on a very expected sound for Toliver  and won’t capture the attention of anyone that isn’t already a fan or familiar with his music style. Fulfilling expectations of fans and maintaining artistic consistency are not objectively bad things, but it could definitely prove to be detrimental to his ability to expand his audience. 

Although this album may not exactly shake up the rap and R&B scene the way some of Toliver’s earlier work has, it is successful in showcasing the rapper’s talent and unique identity. His vocals shine through as the dominant aspect of this album, as they do in most of his work. Having such a huge range of features also makes this album worth listening to at least once, given that some of rap’s biggest names are featured alongside smaller artists and foreign influences as well. Overall, it is a solid project that cements Toliver’s consistency in the rap industry. Anyone who appreciates the current state of rap and R&B music and needs to refresh  their rap playlist should give “Love Sick” a listen.