Emerging from Drake’s Shadow
PARTYNEXTDOOR shows growth on P3, but is it enough?
Prior to the unveiling of his third studio album, P3, Canadian singer, songwriter and producer PARTYNEXTDOOR kicked off the year by helping pen the infectious chart-topping single “Work”. The track featured mesmeric vocals from pop princess Rihanna and a verse from Party’s OVO Sound label-head and frequent collaborator Drake.
Party’s P3 is sprinkled with that same Caribbean influence. It’s also ridden with relationship woes. For those unfamiliar with the Mississauga, Ontario native, the vibe may seem to mirror Drake’s adaptation of island flavour, but considering Party’s Jamaican and Trinidadian heritage and repeated contributions to Drake projects such as Views, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and Nothing Was The Same, it seems Drizzy may actually be learning a thing or two from the 23-year-old.
Aside from dialects and production style, the two artists also share a common choice in subject matter, namely their constant tumultuous interactions with ex-lovers. In Party’s case, in March of this year, he had an especially public falling out with his former girlfriend, R&B singer Kehlani, after posting a photo of the two in bed together while it was still believed she was dating NBA player Kyrie Irving. Outlandish conclusions were drawn and the social media storm of malicious comments that followed is rumoured to have resulted in Kehlani’s unfortunate suicide attempt. The Oakland singer posted a since-deleted photo of herself in a hospital bed with a caption that stated, “Today I wanted to leave this earth,” among other things.
While PARTYNEXTDOOR has stated that he regrets how it all went down, his repentances are especially evident twisting throughout the fabric of the 16-track project. Still, P3 kicks off with “High Hopes” literally and figuratively. Over rhythmic drumming and a haunting sample of Blackstreet’s 1996 “No Diggity”, the Sauga singer croons, “I hope everything’s just fine with you, ’cause I got high hopes when I’m checking on you.”
P3 paints Party in a bubble of blues where many of the songs’ repetitive subject matter and similar sonic ambience flow as one, with the exception of a handful of tracks that bang.
Party flaunts a refreshing sense of versatility on a number of songs by embracing his aforementioned island roots, effortlessly lulling lyrics in Jamaican patois. On “Don’t Know How” he spits game to a new lover imploring her to indulge in a new thrill. “You heard a lot about Jamaicans and you want to know what it be like,” he says, following up with, “Come baby gyal pon di sinting yeah, the sign off yah blinking yeah.” Similarly joints like “Don’t Run”, “Only U” and “Not Nice” are soaked in Caribbean influence, the latter being the most notably well-received and the second single released following “Come and See Me”.
Party prevails in a handful of R&B heavy tracks like “Come and See Me”, “You’ve Been Missed” and “Nobody”, but as he attempts to push his vocal skills on songs like “Temptations” and “Problems & Selfless” he comes up short. He seemingly addresses his relationship with Kehlani towards the end of “Problems & Selfless” when he sings “You’d kill yourself, O.D. and blame it on love. You would do it on yourself, they can blame it on us and I stay quiet for ya.”
PARTYNEXTDOOR has grown significantly since his debut in 2013, but he has yet to emerge from the colossal shadow that is Drake’s success. Despite the spur of gossip and drama that encircled the singer this past year, his name is still relatively unknown. P3 paints Party in a bubble of blues where many of the songs’ repetitive subject matter and similar sonic ambience flow as one, with the exception of a handful of tracks that bang. The record does, however, demonstrate Party’s ability to take risks. Slowly, but surely, he’s coming into his own as an independent artist separate from the Drake co-sign.
Photo Credit: Kevin Cortopassi via Flickr CC