Before Astroworld dropped I was unaware of Don Toliver. The Houston up-and-comer impressed fans with his guest slot. “Can’t Say” is a wavy low-key banger that will infiltrate the club scene later this year. While it was one of my least favorite on the album, people seem to love the track. Personally, I find Toliver’s voice rather numbing after consecutive minutes. His high-pitched delivery is certainly distinct, however. Despite my initial doubts, the Texan’s debut mixtape shows promise. The appeal of Donny Womack lies in its catchy atmosphere. It starts well with the track “Diamonds.” This one caught me off-guard. Most of the time artists will kick off a project with a highlight. It’s a smart strategy so as not to scare off listeners. “Diamonds” proves Toliver understands fundamental sequencing skills. Although not a perfect track, it opened the project well enough to hold my interest.
Conversely, the next handful of tracks were tough for me. “Issues,” “Mamma Mia” and “Diva” suffer from a lack of originality or awareness. “Issues” and “Diva,” as well as “Video Girl” later in the tracklist, are simply generic tracks. Even though Toliver’s lyrical content remains consistently surface-level, these tracks add nothing unique to his catalog. “Diva” at least has some dance allure. Going back to “Mamma Mia,” this is the tape’s worst overall song. Don’s cringey vocals and singing style were too much to bear. I prefer when he approaches the track more smoothly, such as on “Around.” The vibe on this song is a joy to listen to, expanding the crooner’s versatility. While Toliver’s voice separates him from his contemporaries, it can be overwhelming at times. Yet with the right production around him, he sounds amazing actually. For example, “Amg” is a jam.
One of the few production gems, “Amg” melds beautifully with Toliver’s cadence and passionate execution. Here he resembles a mixture of Young Thug and T-Pain. His rare vocals make me confident in saying this: Don Toliver will make a hit song sooner rather than later. He may never reach Number One or even Top 10. Nevertheless, Toliver’s mainstream potential is evident all over Donny Womack. Unfortunately, I do not hear a hit record here. But it is certainly an excellent launching pad for his blooming career. Additionally, I loved the track “Bang Bang.” It’s my favorite of this bunch. I haven’t heard much of his material, but Don was in his bag on that one. I urge any trap fan to peep “Bang Bang;” it fits any pre-game, night ride or smoke session. Overall, this project surprised me.
Yet in still, my biggest gripe with this project is its cookie-cutter production. Not only are most of the beats bland, the sound levels are not cohesive whatsoever. Don’s infectious personality cannot save some of these beats from inducing stank faces. Despite enjoying “Around,” it and “Backend” lose momentum from clumsy sonic selections. Sharp, ascending synths sliced through the songs’ aesthetics, leaving a giant question mark in their wake. Why? Especially on a chill vibe like “Around,” sharp synths were a poor accent choice. Many of these instrumentals hold Donny Womack back from breaking through as a whole. Some songs are pure fire for a newcomer, and I fully expect them to gain viral buzz. However, as an artistic statement, this mixtape results in a guilty-pleasure vibe. That said, keep Don Toliver on your radar, rap fans. You’ll be hearing him at your local party outlet before ya know it.