Tolliver

Tolliver

Written and recorded with all-star production team The Architects (Miguel, Alicia Keys), Tolliver’s sparkling new EP, ‘Thin Black Dude,’ is equal parts unbridled hedonism and morning-after regret, a conflicted party record that blurs the lines between soul, funk, R&B, and hip-hop as it grapples with sex and jealousy, money and betrayal, self-doubt and self-control. Tolliver, whose bisexual identity and appetite for debauchery are frequently at odds with his strict religious upbringing, writes with a keen observational eye and lacerating wit. His lyrics are raw and unfiltered, at times hilarious, but there’s a swift undercurrent of guilt that flows just beneath the surface.

“When I play this music for people, I want them to experience the same catharsis that I felt writing it,” he explains. “It’s that classic black music combo. I want them to have the time of their lives, but I also want them to repent for their sins.”

Biblical references come up frequently in conversation with Tolliver, which isn’t very surprising considering his God-fearing roots. Born on the south side of Chicago, he was raised by a Baptist minister father and a gospel-singing mother, and he first fell in love with music on Sundays at church. As a child, he played piano; in high school, he became enamored with musical theater; and in college, he majored in Jazz Vocal Performance. After graduation, Tolliver moved to LA, where he took work editing gay pornography and writing for blogs to help pay the bills while he pursued a career in music. Band-less for the first time in years, he began fleshing out his solo recordings with electronic elements, and the result was a stunning blend of old and new that absolutely oozed sex appeal even as it tackled weighty personal issues. The Line Of Best Fit called Tolliver’s 2018 debut EP, ‘Rites,’ “sultry, and ominous,” likening it to The Weeknd or Twin Shadow, while Clash described it as “future soul with an R&B twist,” and LA Weekly raved that Tolliver’s “seraphic falsetto can stop you in your tracks and make the hairs on your body feel like bayonets.”

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