PARTYNEXTDOOR is a well-loved Canadian singer, songwriter, producer and musician. While he’s known mostly for his singing, he’s shown over time that he can rap and produce. Signed to OVO Sound in 2013, PARTY has established himself as a talented musician. However, over the course of the last 3 years, doubts have been growing over his own music.
There’s an emphasis on “own music” for a reason. More often than not, PARTY’s contributions on other artists’ music have been more worthwhile than his own songs. I’ll speak on this later – let’s just go through PARTY’s run year by year.
In 2013, he released his first mixtape – “PARTYNEXTDOOR”. While sales were less than flattering (with 2 000 copies sold), the mixtape was incredible. The production was glorious. His vocals were equally as captivating. PARTY’s sound carries the soulful nature and melodic runs of old-school R&B yet contrastingly, the production was dark and minimalistic. PARTY’s sound was clearly influenced by The Weeknd and Drake. However, while influenced by both, PARTY manages to create something new out of something, which already exists. There are clear similarities in artistry but there’s also substantial differences between him and his influences. Their vocal tones, singing ability, timbre, writing styles and production. PARTY’s vocal delivery is that of a great singer, but he carries the finesse and confidence of a rapper. He doesn’t have the range of his contemporaries (of course, he can hit the odd falsetto) but within his limited range, not many can give him a run for his money. That’s his bag and he’s able to exude extreme confidence.
He subsequently followed up his first mixtape with a debut studio album, “PARTYNEXTDOOR Two” during the course of 2014. Like his debut mixtape, the project’s production is largely amazing. Through the use of dope melodies and flows, he’s able to make beautiful background music. In fact, this is the shit you play before you make ill-advised hormone-driven decisions. Shit, this is just a soundtrack for half an hour of sex. Strip club music without actually making you feel dirty. While lyrically, PARTY doesn’t give too much insight into his personality, you can’t be upset. You don’t expect porn to have an Oscar award-winning script. For what PARTY lacks in his stories, he makes up for through the production, his vocals, melodies and the high replay value which this album carries. Again, he’s influenced by others – namely, Drake alongside Young Thug’s high-pitched melodies. However, PARTY’s ability to reinvent a sound and evoke a completely different feeling is special. It’s a great album.
Later within the same year, he released a 4-track EP, “PNDColours”. This project illustrated a sonic shift for PARTY. While his production still has thundering 808s, the melodies are more uplifting and positive. In addition to this, his writing is more detailed than ever. Insane vocals and PARTY’s singing to the very limits of his vocal range. Some incredible falsettos and high-pitched vocal runs. Aside from that, taking from the criticisms of his previous projects, this EP sheds a light on PARTY and his personality. It’s more detailed and personal. The EP is secretively some of PARTY’s best work but because of its lack of availability across digital streaming platforms, many don’t recognize that. He ended 2014 with a flourish as he also provided background vocals on two Drake songs on “Nothing Was The Same”.
For the entire 2015, he released a few throwaway singles. Some are incredible – e.g. Kehlani’s Freestyle. But, all of these singles are unavailable on digital streaming platforms. He was still working, just in the shadows. OVO sweatshop style. His pen and abilities were being utilized by others. He produced three songs off Drake’s “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” and had writing credits on four songs. This includes the project’s 3x platinum song, “Legend”.
In the same vein, early in 2016, he wrote for Rihanna. His pen saw him write some of her biggest commercial songs. This includes her lead single and 14th number 1 Billboard Hot 100 chart topping record, “Work”. He also wrote the 2x platinum bonus track, “Sex With Me”. Thereafter, seemingly freed from another sweatshop, he released “PARTYNEXTDOOR 3 (P3)”. The project sees PARTY explore other sonic directions but to be frank, it’s mid. Off the back of his commercial success with Rihanna, PARTY tries to tap into dancehall and pop. At times, he’s successful but others – it’s unbearable. While the production is good (for the most part), at times, it feels like he dropped the same song twice on the project. Additionally, due to the artistic freedom he’s given, PARTY tends to make songs far too long. You can also hear his vulnerabilities within the music. Yet, there’s still some clear highs. Songs like “Joy”,” Nobody”, “Brown Skin”, “1942” and “Come and See Me” make the project worthwhile although its 66 minutes long. A shorter, more concise and better arranged track listing would’ve made it far better.
He also went on and announced a collaborative project with Jeremih, which still hasn’t been released till this day. Oh well… that would’ve been special because Jeremih’s “Late Night” sequel was incredible.
In 2017, he released two EPs. In June, he released “COLOURS 2” – a follow up to the first installment. Whenever anybody drops 4 song EPs, I’m going to need at least 2 songs to be fire. “Peace of Mind” and “Freak in You” make you feel like you’re listening to old PARTY. It’s the shit that we want need. Yeah, this shit deserves 5 fire flame emojis. “Rendezvous” is also dope, it’s interesting to see his stylistic growth while simultaneously taking from his older style.
Within the same year, he dropped “Seven Days”. The project is only seven songs in length. It’s probably PARTY’s most versatile project to date. However, extreme versatility doesn’t actually mean it’s outstanding. PARTY mentioned during an interview how it was created in 7 days… it does sound like it. For the large part, there’s a few songs I’ll never play again in my life. “Damage”, which features Halsey, comes into mind – it’s bubblegum shit. At the same time, I can acknowledge that it’s not for me but there’s plenty of people who love it. It’s got plenty of radio appeal. “Love Me Again” is PARTY on his alternative R&B/pop shit and I completely dislike it – anybody with ears should too. Aside from that, the rest of it is generally good. Even if he’s biting from mainstream heavyweights, he’s doing it right. “Never Played Me” sounds like a Travi$ Scott song. “Best Friends” sounds like a Future song. Both are cool nonetheless, but the highlights of the project are where PARTY is inexplicably himself. Songs like “The Right Way” (which is elite), “Bad Intentions” and “Better Man” (which features Rick Ross – they sound surprisingly great together) make the project somewhat enjoyable.
Also, notably, PARTY did have a remarkable run in 2017. He produced DJ Khaled’s “Shinning” (which features Beyoncé and Jay Z) alongside “Wild Thoughts” (which features Rihanna and Bryson Tiller). The former going platinum and the latter is 5x platinum. The latter was also number 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts. Aside from that, as a featured artist, he was on Zayn’s “Still Got Time” and it went gold. Contrastingly, for all his commercial success, PARTY hasn’t actually received it for his own music. His numbers are pale in comparison. He’s continuously given away multi-platinum records and that’s truly contributed to his downfall. It’s part of why PARTY is on the clock. If he had dropped those records for himself, he obviously wouldn’t achieve Rihanna / Beyoncé / Drake level success, but the actual quality of his music would speak for itself.
Anyhow, with fans becoming more entitled than ever, PARTY finds himself in a compromising position. Although his bank account is growing substantially, due to the high quality of his first few releases, there’s high expectations set for his music. Unfortunately, with every release, PARTY is almost underperforming and overall, underwhelming. In an era where people consume music at a rapid rate, consistency is key. Furthermore, with the growing number of new musicians in his lane alongside existing musicians who are already consistent, if he doesn’t deliver – I worry if people will actually still look out for new PARTYNEXTDOOR.
So… how does PARTYNEXTDOOR return? A two pack at the end of 2019. Obviously influenced by Drake, a two pack seemingly caters for two different audiences by dropping a record, which appeals to each. “The News” caters to his core fan base, we love to hear PARTY over soul instrumentals. Beautiful vocal runs over great production, that’s all we need. Contrastingly, “Loyal” (featuring Drake) sees PARTY chase the mainstream. A dancehall inspired record. Mehhh, I feel like I’ve heard this a million times from both artists. I never jumped for those records then, I certainly won’t when they sound super outdated now. Straight mid, an easy skip. If this is what his album, “Club Atlantis”, sounds like – his time really will be up. At least he can still write for our favourite artists, lmao.
I honestly hope PARTYNEXTDOOR’s January release lives up to expectations (and meets the deadlines he’s set) because he’s an incredible writer, producer and singer. His talent honestly demands more love and commercial success than before. I guess we’ll see during the course of 2020.