The Daily Gamecock

Review: Don Toliver's 'Love Sick' is a fun fusion of hip-hop and R&B

<p>Don Toliver performs on the Frank Stage on the second day of the Day N Vegas music festival at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Nov. 13, 2021. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS).</p>
Don Toliver performs on the Frank Stage on the second day of the Day N Vegas music festival at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Nov. 13, 2021. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS).

Album: "Love Sick"

Artist: Don Toliver

Release date: Feb. 24, 2023

Duration: 53 minutes

Label: Cactus Jack/Atlantic Records

In his third studio album, "Love Sick," Don Toliver takes listeners on an engaging journey through his experiences with courtship and love. Often fusing hip-hop and R&B, the album provides a varied listening experience with few pitfalls.

The only problem with the intro track, "LoveSickness," is that it's too short. The production, starting off ballad-like and then abruptly switching into a trap-infused hype song, made for an exciting introduction and tone-setter for the diverse emotional states conveyed throughout the album.

The next song, "Let Her Go," is rather forgettable with a vocal performance from Toliver that sounds flat and uninteresting. The feature from James Blake doesn't add much to the track and is very subdued in comparison to some of his better performances.

However, this lull ends with the next song, "Leave The Club," which showcases Toliver's melodic abilities. The track ends with GloRilla rapping a frenetic verse that is one of the best on the album, thanks to the heightened intensity compared to the songs before it.

The next song, "4 me," initiates the slower, more R&B-influenced parts of the album and sees Toliver and his real-life girlfriend, Kali Uchis, profess their love for each other. 

"You're the only girl for me / You're the only one I need," Toliver sings in the chorus. 

This warm and affectionate tone continues in "Go Down," which features an even more extensive production. An emphatic beat switch and melodic catchiness in the song create a similar sound to Kanye West's 2008 album "808s & Heartbreak." 

The next album highlight is a more somber record, "Leather Coat," where Toliver describes a past relationship using a well-crafted metaphor over a tranquil, acoustic instrumental.

"You're too gassed up, you live off in the meadows / Your bouquet, your roses, your dry rose petals / This rockstar love, a lot of heavy metal," Toliver sings. 

The imagery of a bouquet of roses being dropped over time as a metaphor for the gradual crumbling of a romantic relationship makes this song a vivid and emotional listen.

The next two tracks fall back into the category of Toliver's dull performances, aside from a guest appearance from Wizkid in "Slow Motion," which produced one of the most fun-to-dance-to melodies on the album.

Then, comes the best song on the album, entitled "Do It Right." This track's chorus is an interpolation of The SOS Band's 1980 song, "Take Your Time (Do It Right)." Toliver's take on this classic hit creates a dynamic party anthem, featuring heavy bass and a bouncing rhythm that makes the song a lot of fun to listen and dance to.

The album then takes another turn back towards the R&B sound. This final stretch of the album begins with an unorthodox pairing as Toliver teams with Charlie Wilson, who delivers an intense vocal performance in "If I Had."

The most intriguing of these last songs is "Cinderella," in which Toliver speaks on being apprehensive about committing to a partner who truly cares for him. Toliver focus on the effects of trauma he experienced earlier in his life and later resorting to drugs as a coping mechanism.

"She braid my hair, rub my back and roll my cigarillo / And she don't know about that pain so I can never fail her / I let that Codeine, sit in rain until I hit that pillow," Toliver raps.

These lines showcase a moment of vulnerability that adds depth to the end of the album. Toliver's uneasiness to trust someone who seems devoted to him makes the song and the story of the album feel more relatable to listeners.

Toliver said in an interview with Breakfast Club Power that he wanted "Love Sick" to tell a story that displays the many different sides of experiencing of love. As the album gives listeners a myriad of emotional highs and lows with the production match, it's seems Toliver succeeded in that regard.