Houston rapper Don Toliver has made some serious moves in the last few years. Since releasing his debut mixtape, Donny Womack, back in 2018, he's featured on Travis Scott's ASTROWORLD, as well as working with the likes of Justin Bieber, Gunna, Wiz Khalifa and more. His new album, Life Of A Don, which has been highly anticipated by fans everywhere, is out now and marks another significant moment in Don's career to date.
The album, which features his partner Kali Uchis, as well as Travis Scott, Baby Keem and more, gives fans a deeper insight into what it's like to be Don Toliver. To celebrate the release of L.O.A.D, we've taken a look at the steps that Don's taken to get to where he is today. His melodic flow has seen him become one of the superstars of Houston rap (alongside the likes of Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion), and Life Of A Don is an album made by someone who's supremely comfortable with their status as a star.
From the moment Don Toliver recorded his first song at 16 - Bitch I'm The Building - he was hustling, and he's never stopped. He got a feel for Houston's scene through playing open mics, art shows and strip clubs, before Houston rap legend Chedda Da Connect caught wind of what was going on and became his manager. Houston rap has always embraced Don, and when Travis Scott came calling, Don's life would never be the same.
Travis Scott's ASTROWORLD sent shockwaves through the hip-hop scene for multiple reasons. There was SICKO MODE, which helped to fuel a beef between Drake and Kanye West that lives to this day, as well as showcasing Travis's hybrid of trap and psychedelic music. It'd also have a huge impact on the artists featured on the album, including Don, who featured on the album's thirteenth track, Can't Say.
Speaking about featuring on ASTROWORLD, Don tells Highsnobiety that being in Honolulu and working on ASTROWORLD with Travis was like a dream coming true. He explains, "I wanted to be on that album so bad. I could have killed somebody to be on that album. I was working hard, five or six songs a day. I wasn’t at the pool, I wasn’t at the beach, I wasn’t at the mall, I wasn’t looking at the view, I wasn’t rock climbing, I was in the studio."
The week of ASTROWORLD's release is almost undoubtedly the week Don's life changed forever. Earning the nickname 'Donolulu' after linking up with Travis to record Can't Say in Honolulu, Hawaii meant he had superstar support, but one feature doesn't always make someone's career, no matter how impressive that feature might be. The day before ASTROWORLD arrived, Don released his debut mixtape, Donny Womack, cementing the impact of his verse on Can't Say. The mixtape revealed that Don's "Trap&B" style was here to stay and showed that his verse on ASTROWORLD was just a taste of the flexibility of Don's music.
Don's appearance on ASTROWORLD clearly impressed Travis Scott, and Don's gone on to be somewhat of a protege of the Houston native. The hometown heroes would link up for the 2019 album JACKBOYS, an album that featured rap collective JackBoys, who are the artists signed to Travis Scott's Cactus Jack Records. The group, which features Travis, Sheck Wes, Don, Luxury Tax and Travis's DJ Chase B, dropped the album in the last few days of December 2019, meaning that when it reached #1 on the Billboard charts, it became the first #1 album of the 2020s.
When talking about the project, Travis tells XXL that the project represents his ideal version of hip-hop - one where people are more united. He explains, “It’s just a body of work made with a few of my friends and people I’ve always made music with since day one. It’s just fun and something that’s endearing and cool. It kind of like, wakes up the minds of people that might not know about Don Toliver or people that know about Sheck Wes and makes them want to know more.”
Since featuring on ASTROWORLD, Don hasn't slowed down, and just months after featuring on JackBoys, he'd release his debut album, Heaven Or Hell. The album, much like Don's career, is deeply rooted in his experiences growing up in Houston, as well as the way he perceives life. he explains, “Life is Heaven Or Hell. You might be stuck in an office all day working, but then you go out and turn up in the club at night. I’m quiet in the studio, chilling, smoking, and writing. I get to the party, and I go crazy. So, the music is a roller coaster. There are happy and heartfelt feelings, but there are a lot of parties, drugs, and crazy shit you don’t see.
"Certain songs glorify the beautiful aspects of life. Others show the toxic environment. The music has each side. When you’re at home or on stage, it’s pure heaven. After the party ends, it doesn’t feel as pure. Nobody has had a chance to figure me out, so I’m giving them both Heaven Or Hell to answer some questions.” The album would feature the likes of Travis Scott, Quavo and Offset, as well as the track No Idea, which became huge on TikTok.
L.O.A.D comes off the back of a pandemic that stopped many artists in their tracks - but where some artists retreated back into the familiar, Don kept pushing himself. The release of Drugs N Hellla Melodies, which features on L.O.A.D, was proof of the variety of sounds that Don can create. Working with his partner, Kali Uchis, the track combines Kali's R&B-centered vocals with Don's melodic flow, giving the track a more sensual vibe than fans may have come to expect from his releases beforehand. It's a song worth listening to with that someone special, and it's one of Don's strongest releases to date.
READ MORE: Don Toliver And Kali Uchis Have Dropped The Lovey 'Drugs N Hella Melodies' And We Think They're Dating
Working with Kanye West on DONDA feels like a full circle moment for Don, in a career that's been full of them to date. Featuring alongside Kanye and Kid Cudi (who his mentor, Travis Scott, counts as one of his biggest influences) on Moon, Don's proven that everyone is paying attention to the moves he's making, which means that Life Of A Don is arriving at the perfect time. Speaking to W Magazine, he explains, “Life of a Don gives you insight into what I have going on right now. And that sound is really just how I feel. It’s the soundtrack of my life, and it’s coming from a new feeling.”
All that's left to do now is to press play and enter Don's world.