Zoom on Don Toliver, the protege of Travis Scott who has grown up


Language barrier obliges, some US artists struggle to shine as much as they deserve in France, this is the case of Don Toliver. Highlighted by Travis Scott on his album Astroworld, he embodies the revival of the hip scene–Houston hop. When he holds the microphone, he brilliantly fuses hip influences–hop and R&B that flow through his veins and offer a cocktail of extraordinary melodic power. Young, trendy and already validated by the greatest, he has all the potential to become one of the most brilliant superstars of the rap game.. And since within a few months, you will definitely no longer be able to miss the phenomenon, let’s take the initiative to teach you everything about this talented prodigy and before–keeper.

The birth of a prodigy

Don Toliver, real name Caleb Zackery Toliver, was born in Houston, Texas on June 12, 1994. Now 27, he grew up in Alief, a suburb of Houston also known as S.W.TO.T for South West Alief Texas. Like many talented artists, he was immersed in music from an early age. Cradled by his parents to the sounds of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Sade, his musical education is forged with the greatest voices of soul. Rap level, his school will be that of the local independent label Swishahouse which his father Bongo was part of in the early 2000s.. As a teenager, it’s Michael Jackson, Bobby Wormack, N.E.R.D and soulman Musiq Soulchild who are part of his playlist.

It is besides the latter which made him want to make music, as he confided to The Fader: « When I first heard it I went crazy. Musiq Soulchild pushed me to surpass myself and learn to sound the melodies. I was already singing a little, but I wanted to go further thanks to him « . Him and others since a certain Kendrick Lamar also motivated him to really get started, more precisely his mixtape released in 2010, Overly Dedicated: « It is by listening to tracks like « Alien Girl », « PNP 1.5 « from Kendrick that I became the artist that I am today », said–it at Complex. Note also that the song « Local Only » by rapper Dom Kennedy li inspired his artist name.. It’s decided, he will make a career in music and will be encouraged by his parents. Fun fact, at 20, he will even sing alongside his father on the song « Southside ».

But let’s go back four years when in 2010, he signed his first song, « Bitch, I’m in The Building », at the age of 16.. A percussive rap on the instrumental of the track « Make It Rain » by Tyga. The effect is immediate: he who was not one of the most popular guys in college sees his reputation change.. Those he considered to be the coolest in the bahut become his fans. From now on–there he knows he has something to do with music.

So, once his diploma in hand, he moved and set up a studio with his best friend, rapper YungJosh93, with whom he formed the duo Playa Familia.. Their first piece for two is called « Dear Summer & Global Wide Pimp Brothers ”. Listening to Cali’s west coast influence clearly perceptible and his music sounds very different from what he does today

It hits hard, but when he goes up to New–York with his buddy to play their mixtape Playa Familia on the radios and people in the street, the critics are unanimous: Don Toliver is not a bad rapper, but it is with his innate sense of melody that he is really stands out. His mind then takes only one turn. He changes course and decides to direct his rap towards R sounds&B, inspired by his hometown’s local hero, Travis Scott.

His new direction decided, he will continue the adventure solo and will offer his first successes with the songs « Diva », inspired by « Billie Jean » by Michael Jackson and « I Gotta » published on Soundcloud at the end of 2017.. Streams pile up as his two tracks flood clubs and he will be signed to Atlantic Records.. A signature that will allow him to connect with Travis Scott, then hard at work on his project Astroworld. Impressed by his vocal talents, he will take him under his wing and offer him the best promotions by inviting him on his track « Can’t Say »

His first solo mixtape titled Donny Wormack will be dropped in the old Astroworld release, which will allow him to capitalize on his mentor’s aura.. The story could have ended there, but La Flame believes so much in the potential of his foal that the very next day, he signs him on his label Cactus Jack Records and takes him with him for his Astroworld Tour.. A featuring, a mixtape, a signing and the start of a three-day tour: Travis’s strategy for Don Toliver is perfect and the whole world has their eyes on Houston’s new talent.. In the continuity of this rise, we will find Donny on JACKBOYS, the collaborative album of the artists of Cactus Jack Records released at the very end of 2019.. For the anecdote, because of its place in the calendar, this project was the first album to top the charts of the 2020s.. After which her life will change and nothing will ever be the same.

An irresistible rise

Thanks to Travis Scott, everything was thoughtfully put in place to allow Don Toliver’s breakthrough. Aware of his lucky star, the artist will follow up with the single “No Idea”, intended to promote his first studio album, Heaven or Hell to be released a few months later.. Only, against all odds, the track does not take off more than that when it is released, but since fate seems to be with the singer, it will experience a dazzling buzz a few weeks later, by going viral on TikTok. This title as well as his second single « After Party » will be an opportunity for the public to discover how unique his voice is and how his use of the autotune allows him to build heady melodies and before.–guardians

Very quickly then, the hype is carried away. In less than a year, he has gone from illustrious unknown to more than a million subscribers on each of his networks.. Boosted by the validation of La Flame, the viral effect and his solo successes, he found himself in January 2020, guest on Eminem’s album, Music To Be Murdered By in the chorus of the title « No Regrets ». The beautiful story continues the following month when called to ensure the opening parts of The Weeknd’s After Hours. Perfect showcases to lead the way as it should for her debut album, Heaven or Hell in March 2020. At the exit, the critics are conquered and unanimous and Apple makes it squarely fit into its playlist « artists revelations ». Enough to help him climb the ladder even faster.

After slipping his name on Fast’s soundtrack & Furious 9, he’ll hit even harder by posing on Nav and Gunna on Internet Money’s certified platinum summer hit, « Lemonade ». A title that at the same time will give Don his first televised performance at Jimmy Fallon. The months go by and after Eminem, everyone tears it up. Nas, Big Sean, Masego, Gunna, Nav, Young Thug, Fetty Wap, Ricco Nasty, Justin Bieber, Baby Keem, Migos, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Maxo Kream… He has a series of notable collaborations with big names in hip–hop and music. The verses and choruses he sends for artists so different from each other say a lot about his versatility and show how he is able to adapt to universes other than his own, without ever compromising his identity..

Aware of his talents from the start and following in his father’s footsteps, Don Toliver took his time to nurture his art in order to make his revolution and create his own sound.. In an interview during his selection among the XXL Freshman of 2019, he said: “I worked hard and in silence. I’m not trying to attract attention or be someone other than me. I’m just trying to make good music. I love the art and the game, am here to stay and be eternal ”.

But to be eternal, being validated in record time by the greatest is not enough. The hardest part is yet to come. With all the spotlight on him, he had to confirm the hopes placed in him with his next album, « Life of a Don ».

A new album at the top

« Life of a Don » is precisely the crystallization of the insane rise that Don Toliver has experienced in recent years.. More precisely and in the words of the author:  » It’s the soundtrack of my life, and it’s born out of a new feeling and gives you a glimpse of what I’m going through right now. This sound is really what I feel ”.

As you might expect, on this album, Don capitalizes fully on what makes his strength: singing and melody. His unique voice transports us and constantly pushes the boundaries of musicality. With still catchy melodies, sumptuous musical harmonies and a voice sublimated by an innovative use of the autotune, Don Toliver magnifies his sense of formula and takes us on a dazzling musical journey..

In return for this exceptional sound cocktail, the singer inevitably puts rap and writing in the background.. It’s a fact, his texts are poor, superficial and thoroughly surf the clichés seen and reviewed from the trap.. But no offense to those who deplore his lyrical weakness, the beautiful lyrics are not what we are looking for when listening to a Don Toliver album.. In the end, he can tell all the bullshit he wants, as long as his melodies keep slapping us and his voice always transports us further..

The end of 2021 is approaching and we are already launching the bets: with Donda by Kanye West and The Melodic Blue by Baby Keem, Life of a Don by Don Toliver has ample potential to finish on the podium of the best US rap albums of the year..

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