Don Toliver – “Life of a Don” review

This is the sophomore album from Houston rapper & singer/songwriter Don Toliver. Emerging in 2018 after quietly signing to Cactus Jack Records & Atlantic Records, his name truly wouldn’t be first known to the masses until he out his debut mixtape Donny Womack & then being featured on “Can’t Say” off his mentor Travis Scott’s latest album at the time ASTROWORLD literally the very next day. Fast forward a year & a half later right when the COVID-19 pandemic started, his full-length debut Heaven or Hell revealed himself as the most talented that Cactus Jack has to offer. But now that he started hitting the road again very recently, Don is dropping Life of a Don in the midst of it.

“Xscape” starts it off with a horn-infused R&B cut produced by DJ Chase B & Mike Dean about needing the love to keep his woman whereas “5X” almost has a bit of a West Coast feeling from the Cardo instrumental with Don detailing how fine this stripper is. “Way Bigger” gets boastful with the help of a psychedelic Sonny Digital beat leading into the woozy “Flocky Flocky” with Travis Scott talking about their blessings.

Meanwhile on “What You Need”, we have Don on top of a cloudy Hit-Boy instrumental saying he’ll do anything for his bitch just before “Double Standards” works in a Three 6 sample opening up about how it’s hard to be human. “Swangin’ on Westheimer” has some slick production from Metro Boomin’ getting charismatic, but then “Drugs n Hella Melodies” nocturnally pays homage to the 2 things he loves the most.

“2AM” hazily gets in his late night lust bag while “Get Throwed” works in some keyboards with the help of Murda Beatz & DJ Mustard talking about a rich hoe. “Company, Pt. 2” is an incredibly fun sequel to one of my favorites off Heaven or Hell whereas “Outerspace” with Baby Keem is an exhilarating 2-parter getting flirtatious.

On the other hand, HVN & SoFaygo tag along for “Smoke” for an entrancing party anthem while the song “You” finds Travis returning to playfully talk about what comes with their bitches. The penultimate track “Crossfaded” is a mind-altering ode to smoking weed & getting drunk but lastly, “Bogus” ends the album with a more glossier note saying he don’t go for bullshit.

Heaven or Hell was one of the most underrated albums of last year & for a follow-up, I think fans are gonna like Life of a Don just as much or possibly even more than the debut. The lyrics are bit more personal this time around & the lack of features throughout kinda exemplifies that in a sense.

Score: 4/5

Don Toliver – “Heaven or Hell” review

Don Toliver is a 25 year old rapper from Houston, Texas that gained national exposure for signing to Cactus Jack Records as well as his debut mixtape Donny Womack & his verse on “CAN’T STAND” off his mentor Travis Scott’s 3rd album ASTROWORLD, all of my which offering in August 2018. As much as I loved that track, I personally found Don’s nasally voice on there to be tedious on first listen. But after more listens, it eventually grew on me. The hype for Don was expanded just this past winter with the song “Had Enough”, which was one of the few highlights that the Cactus Jack showcase EP JACKBOYS had to offer. However with his full-length debut over here, my morbid curiosity got the best of me & I decided to give it a shot.

The album kicks off with the title track, where Don sums up his life up until this point over a cloudy instrumental from WondaGurl & Mike Dean. The next song “Euphoria” with Kaash Paige & Travis Scott finds the 3 getting romantic over a settle instrumental while the track “Cardigan” talks about his significant other over a trippy yet bouncy instrumental from Frank Dukes & Sonny Digital. The song “After Party” talks about wildin’ out over a woozy beat while the track “Wasted” is a hard hitting anthem about not throwing your time away.

The song “Can’t Feel My Legs” talks about this woman making him nervous over a dreary beat & despite the track “Candy” having peaceful instrumental, it’s so annoying lyrically. The song “Company” vents about missing this woman over a cavernous instrumental & “HAD ENOUGH” still sounds as great as it did on JACKBOYS. The song “Spaceship” with Sheck Wes is a psychedelic late night cruiser while the penultimate track “No Photos” talks about how he doesn’t allow pictures at the trap over a mesmerizing beat. The album then finishes with “No Idea”, where Don expresses his feelings towards this woman over a smooth instrumental.

I’m pretty impressed with what I heard on here for the most part & to me, it’s even better than Mudboy. It has it’s redundant moments, but Don shows us that he’s a refreshing new voice/face to take on this psychedelic trap sound & we get a closer look into his personality as well.

Score: 3.5/5

JACKBOYS – Self-Titled review

This is the brand new EP from Houston, Texas record label Cactus Jack Records. Founded in 2017 by trap music’s current mastermind Travis Scott, the label has been steadily building itself up since it’s foundation by signing the likes of Sheck Wes & Don Toliver. However when it seemed like Travis was gonna take 2019 off due to the massive success of ASTROWORLD last summer, he’s finally showcasing his camp as a whole with JACKBOYS.

The EP starts off with a remix to “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM”, which was an obvious leftover from ASTROWORLD. However in this case, Rosalía & Lil Baby both add redundant verses. Then after a 47 second “intro”, we get into the first actual song “GANG GANG”. Where Travis, Sheck & Don get with Luxury Tax to talk about their brotherhood over a woozy trap beat from WondaGurl. The track “HAD ENOUGH” by Don, Offset & Quavo sees the 3 talking about being fed up with this promiscuous woman over a spacey beat while the song “OUT WEST” sees Travis & Young Thug getting sexual over an abrasive Buddah Bless beat. The penultimate track “WHAT TO DO?” by Trav & Don is them describing how they would treat their significant others over a trap beat with a plucky acoustic lead then there’s the closer “GATTI”, where Travis gets with Pop Smoke to talk about people cappin’ over a dark yet bouncy instrumental.

These record label showcase projects are never really all that great to begin with, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a mediocre EP. Travis himself sounds lively as always, but almost everyone else involved seems to be playing it safe both instrumentally & performance-wise. That being said, I’m still really looking forward to what LaFlame is gonna do next year.

Score: 2.5/5

Sheck Wes – “MUDBOY” review

Sheck Wes is a 20 year old rapper from Harlem, New York who started out in 2009 as a member of the MillYorkers at the age of 11. He eventually signed a joint deal with Travis Scott’s Interscope Records imprint Cactus Jack Records & Kanye West’s GOOD Music at the beginning of the year but now with him being on the verge to head out with Travis on the upcoming ASTROWORLD tour next month, he’s decided to drop his full-length debut.

The album begins with “Mindfucker”, where Sheck sends a message to his haters over some prominent hi-hats. The next song “Live Sheck Wes” talks about roaches in the crib over an eerie trap beat while the track “Gmail” brags about his skill level over a futuristic trap beat . The song “Wanted” gets confrontational over an instrumental with a sinister atmosphere to it while the track “Chippi Chippi” talks about his new lifestyle over a spacey beat.

The song “Never Lost” reflects on his rough past over a moody WondaGurl instrumental while the track “WESPN” laughs off at how his doubters became his believers over a spacey beat. The song Kyrie” sees Sheck comparing himself to the Boston Celtics player Kyrie Irving over a beat with some chilling bells & while it is cool, the track “Mo Bamba” takes it to a whole new level as Sheck talks about all these labels contacting him & intelligently comparing it to how his childhood friend & Orlando Magic player Mohamed Bamba was being targeted by universities when they were in highly school over a grimy trap beat with some keyboards.

The “Burn Slow” interlude is way much less of an interlude & more of an atmospheric brag while the track “Jiggy On the Shits” recalls roaming the streets at the age of 10 over another spacey beat. The song “Fuck Everyone” angrily talks about his arrival to the hip hop scene over a looped sample of a MacBook Pro start up sound & while the penultimate track “Danimals” does vent about an ex, the hook is awkward & the beat is generic as Hell. The album does end on a high note though with “Vetements Socks”, where Sheck gets introspective over a meditative yet blissful beat.

As a whole, this was a pretty solid debut. Some of the beats could’ve been better & I do appreciate Sheck Wes for holding it all on his own, but I wish we got at least just 1 Travis Scott verse on here. All that aside, this is a great beginning for the rising NY star. BITCH!

Score: 3.5/5

Travis Scott – “AstroWorld” review

Almost 2 years after his underappreciated sophomore album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight & with the solid debut album from Huncho Jack at the tail-end of last year, Houston trap mastermind Travis Scott is finally delivering his long-awaited 3rd full-length album.

Things start off with “STARGAZING”, where Travis recalls a drug trip over a Sonny Digital instrumental that starts off atmospheric, but then switches into an eerie trap instrumental. The next song “CAROUSEL” talks about how fly he is over a gritty Hit-Boy instrumental & the Frank Ocean hook is very pretty. The track “SICKO MODE” with Drake sees the 2 talking shit & I like how the instrumental constantly switches up while maintaining a dark sound. The song “R.I.P. SCREW” is an atmospheric tribute to the legendary Screwed Up Click leader DJ Screw while the track “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” advises the listener to stay true to yourself over a cloudy trap beat & the James Blake/KiD CuDi hook is phenomenal. I also love the Stevie Wonder harmonica that pops up occasionally.

The song “NO BYSTANDERS” is a club banger with a psychedelic trap beat & the Waka Flocka sample for the hook is amazing. The track “SKELETONS” is a slow love ballad with a mellow Tame Impala instrumental along with some harmonious background vocals from Pharrell & The Weeknd. The song “WAKE UP” is a tribute to both Kylie Jenner & Bella Hadid over a Frank Dukes instrumental with rattling hi-hats & some unexpected acoustic guitar passages. I also love the cloudy instrumental outro during the last 40 seconds. The track “5% TINT” gets braggadocious over some bass & ominous keyboards while the perfectly “NC-17” with 21 Savage gets raunchy over a trap beat from Boi-1da with some prominent chimes. The track “ASTROTHUNDER” vents about needing distance over a spacey beat from Travis himself with co-production from John Mayer, Thundercat & Frank Dukes and while the song “YOSEMITE” does about the lavish things in life over a nice acoustic trap beat & the Gunna hook is pretty, but the very short NAV verse at the end is totally redundant.

The track “CAN’T SAY” has an amazing Trae tha Truth sample in the WondaGurl instrumental, but I feel like Don Toliver takes up most of it & his nasal tone does absolutely nothing for me. The song “WHO? WHAT!” feels like an leftover from Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho down to the disappointingly generic instrumental from Cardo, but the song “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” makes up for it as he talks about the famous life over a druggy Murda Beatz instrumental. The penultimate track “HOUSTONFORNICATION” is a tribute to Travis’ hometown of Houston over a murky trap beat & then “COFFEE BEAN” finishes it off with fireworks as Travis reflects on his career up until this point over an unexpected boom bap beat from 1985. The prominently twangy guitar throughout is a nice touch, but the heavy guitar & the string sections that pop up during the last minute are just beautiful.

I’ve been waiting 3 years for this & overall, it’s on the same caliber as Rodeo. The production returns to the experimental sound that was displayed on that album & I love how Travis is rapping a lot more than ever on here. There are a couple lackluster moments but outside of that, it’s just another example of why Travis is the greatest trap rapper of this generation.

Score: 4.5/5

Huncho Jack – “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho” review

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Huncho Jack is a duo consisting of Migos’ standout member Quavo & the KiD CuDi of trap music, Travi$ Scott. Both members have shown quite a bit of chemistry with songs like “Oh My Dis Side”, “pick up the phone” & “Portland”. And alas, here we are with their full-length debut.

The album starts off with “Modern Slavery”, where they’re going back & forth about the lavish life & the Otis Redding sample is surprising yet cool. The next track “Black & Chinese” talks about their favorite types of women over an abrasive Southside beat & the track “Eye 2 Eye” gets with Takeoff gets celebratory over a druggy instrumental from Murda Beatz. The song “Motorcycle Patches” talks about acid & while it would turn me off, it is fun. The track “Huncho Jack” is a prime example of their chemistry over this semi-spacey beat while the song “Saint” flaunts about their success & the bass on here is explosive!

The track “Go” talks about the life of a hustler & the flute sample on here is killer! The song “Dubai Shit” talks about partying in Dubai (obviously) over a druggy beat & I love how Offset is incorporated as he goes back & forth with Quavo during the final verse. The track “St. Laurent Mask” gets into them as dealers & I absolutely love the keys on here. The song “Moon Rock” is an ode to the titular strain of weed & the beat from Vinylz is sinister, yet bass heavy. The track “How U Feel” talks about getting fucked up on lean & the sample on here is absolutely beautiful. The penultimate track “Where U From?” vents about living life in the fast lane & it fantastically samples my favorite Mac DeMarco song: “Chamber of Reflection”. Then album then closes with “Best Man”, where they both get appreciative of their success over another spacey beat.

Personally, this was WELL worth the wait. The production slaps & the chemistry between Quavo & Travi$ is stronger than before

Score: 3.5/5