Prior to late last year’s Cactus Jack label collaborative project JackBoys, I had never really paid too much attention to Don Toliver, unfortunately. I had heard the name and knew he was buzzing in the music scene, but I never took the time to really just sit down and listen to his music. After hearing his contributions to that tape, though, I knew I had to tune into everything else he had to offer because of how out of the box and interesting his voice is. Luckily, as I was making an effort to dive further into his other music, he announced Heaven or Hell, his debut album that came out in March. I haven’t listened to this project all the much to be completely upfront, but I did listen as soon as it released, and I was thoroughly impressed with what he was able to put together. I previously understood why he was buzzing all over the industry, but this album just confirmed my suspicions.
One of the standout songs on Heaven or Hell, at least in my opinion, was his song “Cardigan” which now received a brand-new music video treatment. The beat is comprised of a very transient, attractive melody made up of alternating synths, some up-tempo percussion, and what sounds like some deep strings being strummed in the background. Don wastes no time getting into his verse, as he goes in pretty much as soon as the beat begins. For those of you who have never heard Don Toliver sing before, you’ll quickly catch on to the fact that you’re really missing out. It’s hard to explain exactly what his voice sounds like, but it almost just naturally has layers, as certain elements come off deeper while others sound a bit higher pitched. It’s just one of those things where you have to hear for yourself to understand just how unique he truly sounds. He remains steady with his deliveries, switching them up occasionally and running with the same cadences for stretches of the song before introducing a new style and letting that run its course as well. This song does the perfect job of allowing Toliver to show off his very abundant and impressive skills on a microphone all in one place on one song, so it’s a great highlight reel for the Houston native. Throughout the track, he pays homage to his significant other as they get close and share their passionate feelings for one another. He talks about some of the intimate encounters they have, smoking weed with her, and buying her designer garments because of how much she means to him, among other sexually charged topics.
The music video begins with what sounds like a voicemail that Don’s significant other left on his phone the night before, as captions point out the fact that it’s 3:17 in the morning. She ends the call by saying that she’s just going to come over, which is how we’re introduced to the lovely star of this visual. She heads into the yard of this lavish house, and as she makes her way to the back doors, she peers into the window to see if she can catch a glimpse of anything. She seems to know exactly where the backup key is located, so she retrieves that and lets herself into the luxurious estate. She just makes herself at home, going into the fridge to make some chocolate milk and then pours herself a glass of wine. As the video progresses, it seems as if she’s just bored and wants her man to come home, so she reads a book, plays a game of pool, and tries to occupy her time in any way possible. This eventually leads to her setting up a camera and undressing as she begins “making a movie” for her lover. During this portion in the video, the song slows down and gets distorted, showing the new version that was chopped and screwed in the rerelease of the album a month after its initial drop. As the visual comes to an end, someone enters through the front door, but that person isn’t revealed before the video culminates. Strangely, the woman seems to get up quickly and run off to hide rather than greeting the individual, which makes me think that it isn’t Don. If it is him, then it could mean that she wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place, but I’m not entirely sure, to be honest and it just sort of ends right there without any further explanations.
Don Toliver has been buzzing for good reason and even if his style, which is hard to put into a specific genre in the first place, isn’t necessarily for you, his sound should at least be appreciated for its uniqueness. The inimitability of his voice is something that is going to ensure his position in the music industry for many years to come, and it’s also going to lead to some very uncharacteristic and interesting collaborations with artists of all different kinds. The music video was interesting and very high definition, but the ending kind of threw me for a loop. I couldn’t understand the dynamic this girl had with the homeowner, who I was assuming was Toliver, and I was confused why she seemed to run off at the end considering she was close enough to them to know where the spare key was hidden. I’m not going to dwell on it though, because the song is magnificent in the first place so that’s all that really matters to me. Even though you’ve probably heard “Cardigan” so many times at this point, you might as well give it another listen while you watch the brand-new music video below.