Don Toliver - HEAVEN OR HELL (Album Review)

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

Travis Scott's protegee Don Toliver dropped his debut album 'HEAVEN OR HELL' last Friday and he has a lot of people talking. After steeling the show on the Jackboys project, and having numerous great features such as 'CAN'T SAY' by Travis Scott and 'No Regrets' by Eminem - he's managed to build up some hype for this album. The production on this album is very psychedelic just like his mentor Travis Scott, with numerous heavy synths, transcendence, gloomy, misty beats it does sound great and is produced quite well. Don's lyrics are pretty basic, but his thick, musty vocals always clash well with the beat and allows him to maneuver in and out of it - I think he's bordering an incredible vocalist. There's not a lot of features on the album, but for the features he has they all have chemistry with him and add something new to the track. There's also some content on this album - with a lot of tracks focusing on his relationships with girls, his come up and some of the trials and tribulations he's faced in life. Obviously, due to it being a trap album, there's a lot of flexing and drug talk as well. While this album is flawed, it has many great hooks and you can really just sit down and get lost in the beats here due to the hallucinatory production, feeling like you're transported to another dimension.

The album begins with the title track 'Heaven or Hell'. In this track, he simply is choosing between heaven or hell (a life of sin) - and it seems he's edging towards hell. I really would've liked it if this was a concept Don Toliver built upon but it seems to stop after this track. The hook is nice, the verses are a bit meh but easy to get through and the beat is some 80's disco style, psychedelic trap instrumental which fuses together to make a good beat and a good intro to the album. The next track 'Euphoria' is a step up from the last one. The track focuses on getting high to overcome problems in life and we have two features who tackle this subject. Kaash Paige's vocals are amazing and her verse is so smooth . Travis Scott is chilled over this calm, soothing synth beat and that equally smells great. The hook is a nice interlude between the verses, which leads to Toliver's verse as the finale where his vocals are great as well. You can really close your eyes and get lost in this track. 'Cardigan' is a proper party song and another good one. The bouncy, light synths get you moving and while Toliver's hook doesn't have a new cadence, but the more upbeat style sounds good over the top of it. He's four for four with the next track 'After Party'. The verses are pretty short (as is the song) meaning we get into the hook regularly, which is a brilliant hook and the catchiest at this point of the album. It's simply a song about going to an after party - making it a pretty easily accessible song at parties. The stabbing synth keyboard is on show here again, with a trippy bass creates a great instrumental.

'Wasted' is the first song that's just alright and nothing more. Again, the hook is catchy but the beat seems too similar to the last one. Them stabbing synths are almost copy and pasted here, and as much as I like the hard 808s in the beat - other than that it's eerily similar to the last one. Coming to the halfway point of the album, we have a bit of a mix and match song - 'Can't Feel My Legs'. The beat is hard, gloomy, mysterious with crazy 808s and sticks to the instrumental theme we have going on - but sounds a bit more refreshing than the last one. The pre-chorus feels suspenseful, but it builds up to a hook that's pretty tasteless. It's also repetitive and Toliver's vocals don't really do anything different or crazy - and just to add to the inconsistencies of the song - I can say the verses had an enjoyable cadence. 'Candy' features a repetitive hook which I don't care for, but his vocals are great for the verses. The beat is a fun, light, bouncy one and the whole track is easily replayable - but it's just not one of my favourites. Quick shoutout to the electric guitar solo that appears out of nowhere because it sounds amazing. We get a sci-fi instrumental on 'Company' with stretchy, psychedelic synths which sounds amazing and Don rides the beat perfectly as he focuses on (as the title suggests) missing a girls company. And just to continue the good streak, we have the track from Jackboy's project titled 'Had Enough'. It suits this album better in my opinion because it blends in well with the other tracks. The beat is great especially the deep bass and the features from Quavo & Offset are good - especially Offset who talks on his relationship with Cardi B with a great, speedy flow.

'Spaceship' is a pretty forgettable track with a mediocre hook that kind of drugs. Toliver's verse is forgettable, Sheck Wes' verse was the highlight - despite showing good energy there was nothing special about it. It's just not a great song. 'No Photos' again isn't amazing - i don't like the multi layering and everything about it from the beat to the hook is just mid. Credit where credit is due, because during the verse he switched his vocal pitch and that kept things interesting. The final track of this album is the first single 'No Idea' - which blew up mainly due to Tik-Tok. It's a great song, a great ending to the album with a catchy hook and has a pretty standard beat. The highlight of this song for me has to be the post-chorus due to the high pitched vocals which sound amazing.

To conclude, Don Toliver's debut album is a good one and shows the potential he has and has me looking forward to future output from him. His unique vocals help him stand out in this saturated new generation of rappers, and he'll only continue go to grow. On this album, there's not a song I'd describe as bad but there's a couple of mid/average tracks which stop it being top tier - but yeah as I said it's an impressive debut.


FAVOURITE TRACKS: Euphoria, After Party, Wasted, Had Enough, No Idea


LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Spaceship


OVERALL RATING: Solid 7/10


*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*

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