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Don Toliver Delivers Another Must Listen With 'HARDSTONE PSYCHO' [Album Review]

"HARDSTONE PSYCHO" marks the long-awaited follow-up to Toliver’s acclaimed third studio album, 2023’s "Love Sick,". The album includes standout favorite "Private Landing (Feat. Justin Bieber & Future)" and hit singles "Leave The Club (Feat. Lil Durk & GloRilla)" and "Slow Motion (Feat. WizKid)."

A longtime gaming enthusiast, Don Toliver further heralded "Hardstone Psycho" with the launch of Hardstone, a groundbreaking new video game in Fortnite. A new take on the fan-favorite game mode Hardpoint, the first-of-its-kind music and gaming experience gives players a chance to actively engage with songs from the album while immersing themselves in the universe that inspired it. Hardstone players will squad up in teams of 8 and battle to capture key map locations inspired by the album, fighting for control of Psycho Valley in a heated turf war between two rival biker gangs (Hardstone and Wolves M.C.). Hardstone is free to play and available by logging onto Fortnite and searching for Hardstone from the main menu.

As for the album itself, Don Toliver’s highly anticipated album "Hardstone Psycho" opens with the captivating track "Kryptonite," a perfect introduction to the world he curates. The song is a smooth and melodic piece featuring hard-hitting drums and beautiful strings that draw listeners in immediately. The beat switches seamlessly with angelic backing vocals, complementing Don Toliver's authoritative flow and setting a high bar for the rest of the album. "Kryptonite" is a fantastic start, embodying the essence of what fans have been eagerly waiting for.

Leading into the second track, "Tore Up," the energy shifts to a trap-infused banger with a catchy hook. Don's versatile melodic sound stretches across the track, making it an anthem for open road rides through deserted landscapes, perfectly fitting the rugged and adventurous world of "Hardstone Psycho." This track is poised to become a club favorite, further solidifying the strong opening of the project.The next highlight is "Brother Stone," featuring Kodak Black. This single showcases the unique synergy between Don Toliver and Kodak, who deliver contrasting energies and flows over a trap beat. Kodak's off-kilter flow on the chorus and hook contrasts well with Don Toliver's smooth melodies, as they rap about their distinct lifestyles. Kodak's performance stands out, injecting a different vibe that keeps listeners engaged and intrigued.

"Attitude," infused with the signature style of Cash Cobain, follows with an infectious summer drum pattern that’s taking over 2024. Don Toliver shines with his lyrical and sonic flair, while Charlie Wilson's classic adlibs and vocals add the perfect finishing touch. This up-tempo track is impossible not to dance to and is an instant hit on the album, showcasing Don’s ability to craft songs that resonate widely.

As we transition into Disk 2, the album kicks off with "Bandit," a single that generated significant anticipation. This track is a prime example of Don’s rapping prowess, featuring a high-octane hook and bridge. The production maintains a consistently high standard, with intricate transitions and layers that enhance the listening experience. "Bandit" is one of Don’s best representations of his capabilities, pushing the boundaries of his artistry.

Don Toliver's "Hardstone Psycho" continues to impress as it delves deeper into its narrative and sonic landscape. The album's journey reaches a new high with the track "Glock," where Don takes a fully melodic direction, delivering one of the strongest hooks on the project. The sample on this record provides a nostalgic bed, creating a subdued vibe that still makes you want to bop your head. "Glock" stands out sonically, blending beauty and catchiness into a memorable experience.

Next, "Ice Age" features Don's label boss, Travis Scott, and does not disappoint. This track is a smooth transition from the previous song, with Travis Scott vocally initiating the track and fitting perfectly into its pace. Travis melodically floats on the record with his classic vocal beds, building a euphoric atmosphere with his verse. His performance seamlessly distills into nothingness, making way for Don to take over. Together, they create a blend of futuristic hip-hop and classic Houston rap, making "Ice Age" another highlight of the album.

Following this, "4x4" shifts to a slower pace initially. Don picks up the pace on his verse, experimenting with new sounds. The beat evolves into a more 808-heavy and distorted sound. While "4x4" is a solid track, it lacks the standout moments of its predecessors. Nevertheless, it adds variety to the album, showcasing Don's willingness to experiment and push boundaries.

Entering Disc 3, "Purple Reign" features Future and stands as another exceptional track. Future delivers a performance that showcases his legendary status, going back and forth seamlessly with Don Toliver. Future's energetic verse flows effortlessly over the Metro Boomin instrumental, setting a high standard. Don matches this energy with his flow and rapping, maintaining the track's momentum. The song concludes with drowsy melodies from both artists, ending on a high note and solidifying "Purple Reign" as another standout track on the project. Don Toliver's "Hardstone Psycho" continues to evolve with the addition of "New Drop," a track that infuses a unique house sound into the album's diverse sonic palette. Don croons about two women in his life, expressing uncertainty about who to choose. The song starts with a house beat, but as it progresses, it shifts back to the familiar trap sound, with Don delivering punchy verses. The track ends with the return of house drums and a sample, making it a refreshing and innovative addition to the project.

Next, we get another quality collaboration with Teezo Touchdown on the single "Backstreets." The instrumental sets the stage for Don to enter a melodic zone, delivering a captivating verse. The chorus is enhanced by Teezo's amazing backing vocals, creating a highly enjoyable and harmonious track. This collaboration stands out for its seamless blending of both artists' strengths, adding another layer of depth to the album.

Disc 3 concludes with "Deep In The Water," a single released prior to the album. This track remains one of the smoothest records on the project, highlighting Don Toliver's ability to craft standout songs. The instrumental, sample, and vocal performance come together to create one of the best songs of the year. Don's emotional delivery and the track's impeccable production make it a major highlight, showcasing his talent and solidifying its place as one of his best songs in a highly competitive catalog. "Hardstone Psycho" continues to impress with its innovative sound and strong collaborations. From the unique house-infused "New Drop" to the harmonious "Backstreets" with Teezo Touchdown and the standout "Deep In The Water," Don Toliver demonstrates his versatility and artistic growth. This album is a testament to his ability to push boundaries and deliver a compelling, cohesive body of work.

The album continues to shine with the inclusion of "Inside," featuring Travis Scott once again. This track explores themes of intimacy and lifestyle, with Travis expressing a desire to be inside with his significant other and detailing other aspects of his life. The song pays homage to their hometown of Houston with chopped and screwed backing vocals and a psychedelic feel in both the instrumental and vocal pace. Don Toliver complements Travis perfectly, creating a track that is ideal for relaxation and reflection."5 to 10" follows, existing in a similar sonic world as "Poor World," but distinguished by its skipping high hats and head-bopping tempo. This intimate song features beautiful instrumental elements and another strong melodic performance from Don. It's a track that captures the essence of Don Toliver's ability to blend introspective lyrics with catchy, engaging beats.

As the project nears its end, Don proclaims he has the "Last Laugh" in a song that addresses the struggles he faced on his path to fame and the doubters who didn't believe in his success. He croons about his current lifestyle and the vices he encounters, delivering an introspective and relatable message. This track is both concise and smooth, adding depth to the journey of the album. The project concludes with "Hardstone National Anthem," starting with a vocal choir that harmonizes behind Don's singing. The drums progress at a slow clap pace, while Don sings about turning tears into wine and wearing his heart on his sleeve as a fashion statement. This beautiful, somber ending provides a fitting close to the album, highlighting Don's lyrical and vocal prowess.

Overall, "Hardstone Psycho" is Don Toliver's most anticipated and directionally strong project to date. He continues to deliver the elements that fans love about his music while introducing new and exciting components that set him apart from his peers. This album is one of the best straight-through listens currently available, earning a strong 8/10 rating. Don Toliver has crafted a compelling and cohesive body of work that showcases his growth as an artist and his ability to push musical boundaries.


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