Don Toliver interview: How gaming influenced rapper’s music career

Virginia Glaze

Dexerto sat down with Billboard Hot 100 artist Don Toliver to discuss his roots in gaming and how the rapper’s love of video games influenced his current musical career.

Don Toliver is coming hot off the release of his 3rd studio album, Love Sick — but it’s not his prolific music career that the singer wanted to talk about when he stepped into the FaZe Warehouse to speak with Dexerto.

Instead, we picked his brain about his love of gaming. Don is an avid gamer, and currently plays a wide variety of titles, both at home and on the go when touring or traveling with his crew.

However, the artist also claimed that some of his earliest music was made using a gaming console, proving that his passion for video games played a big part in his current musical pursuits.

Don Toliver says his first music was made with a gaming console

“When I first started making music, I had this big TV with these big speakers on it, and I would go to YouTube on it or whatever through the TV,” he explained.

“I would play a YouTube beat on the loudspeakers, and I would have the TV with the PlayStation, with the iCreate, I think it was called iCreate,” he continued, referencing the PlayStation Eye camera for the PS3. “Where you had the camera and it had a microphone on it, and there was a way where you were able to record whatever you were saying on it.”

“I would just press play on the music and I would record something. I would write it. Write a song down and record with the music playing in the background.”

Although Don doesn’t have those tracks in his possession anymore, he did confirm that some of his earliest music was created using a gaming console — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his passion for video games.

What games does Don Toliver play on tour?

The rapper also revealed that he’s constantly gaming on the go and brings a plethora of systems with him when he travels, be it a PlayStation, Switch, or even a PC… and he has a pretty creative way of storing his consoles.

“This is so crazy,” he began. “Recently, I’ve been traveling with the Xbox. I have all the systems. I travel with my Switch, and that’s usually my go-to thing. But recently, I’ve been traveling with my new Xbox, the smaller one. And I found this crazy — I don’t have a case for it. One day, I was like, rushing out the house. I didn’t have a case, but I don’t know if you ever bought like, a hat case.”

(For those out of the loop, hat cases are specifically for storing one’s hat to keep the brims straight and the tops from being crushed in while traveling.)

“It’s pretty big. I found this hat case when I was rushing out the house and the console, the cords, and the controller ended up fitting right, perfectly in the hat case.”

As for what he plays when he’s on tour, Don says that he often plays more competitive titles with his buddies — more specifically, fighting games or Call of Duty.

“Me and my friends, we get into Fight Night Round Three a lot. We love it, that’s a classic. We get into Tekken 6 a lot, that’s a classic. When friends come around, we get into it and just play Call of Duty. We’ll probably set up TVs and just go crazy.”

Although Don rubs elbows with a lot of famous figures, when it comes to gaming, he likes to keep his circle small and prefers to play with his friends.

Don Toliver loves GTA IV’s radio stations

According to Don, GTA IV is a current favorite of his, in no small part due to the game’s huge tracklist that can be found on the in-game radio stations. That’s not all; when asked if he’d like to help compose a game’s soundtrack, his first answer was “GTA.”

“I’m playing GTA IV right now,” he said. “I solely play it because of like, the way the mechanics of the game work. I really like it. And regardless of the way the mechanics of the game are, the music that they have on the radio station is crazy.”

“You know, like, you go the Vibe station or you go to the Hip Hop station, or you go to the Eighties rock station. The music taste on there — it is immaculate. Yeah. And it’s always kind of been like that.”

Don Toliver GTADon Toliver is a huge fan of GTA and loves browsing through the games’ many radio stations.

But Don doesn’t want us to get it twisted — he plays GTA V, too, but for now, he’s tapping into GTA IV for some “very inspirational reasons.”

Don Toliver is a pretty competitive gamer

Of course, Don does love some Call of Duty, and claims that he gets pretty competitive when he’s in the zone. However, he’s not one to trash talk on the mic. Instead, he says he’s pretty quiet when he’s taking names — a silent but deadly threat.

“Secretly though, I might be on the game quiet the whole game and might mute my headphones or something, just be going crazy trying to get where I need to get,” he said.

Don Toliver opens up about what music he listens to while gaming

Games and music go hand-in-hand for Don. When he’s on the game, he’s also making sure to play some music, too, whether that be new artists he’s just discovered, or his own unreleased tracks.

“I like to jam to Baby Drill,” he explained. “Like, I really get in there and go crazy a lot, like I’ve been jamming that heavy on Call of Duty. Um, my bro put me on this guy — his name is Tony Snow. I really like his music, too, playing Call of Duty. I go crazy. It just really puts me in the mood.”

“I listen to my album on shuffle a lot too, when I’m playing the game. I like to do that. …when it comes to my own music, I like to listen to a lot of my music that I record on the daily. I record a lot, so I’m constantly listening to what I’m doing.”

“Sometimes I just ride in my car solo and I’m like, ‘Yo, let me listen to some of my unreleased [songs].’ I’m like, okay, I see where I’m at, and I might listen to somebody else’s music for a second. I’m like, ‘Man, lemme listen. Let me hear how my music sounds through the speakers today.'”

It’s clear that gaming has influenced Don’s life in a major way. From making his first songs on a PlayStation Eye webcam to hauling around a slew of consoles on the road during a tour, video games remain a constant in his life as he continues his journey into musical fame.