This Friday, PartyNextDoor will release his brand new album, P3. During a casual conversation in the DJBooth office, it became obvious that while Brendan was very excited for PND's forthcoming, third self-titled album, I could care less. So, we did the the only thing that made sense: debate.
Yoh is Not Excited for P3
2016 has quietly been the biggest year of PartyNextDoor’s career. While writing “Work” for Rihanna and several records on Drake’s Views has kept him in the background, behind-the-scenes accolades have raised his stock tremendously. With his new album only three days away, delivering a grand slam of a project could position the world in his palms. P3 is the apex of years of buzz building that has reached the point of eruption. There’s a real excitement surrounding Party, surrounding his album, but I’m not one of his many fans filled with an eagerness to press play. Since his arrival on the Drake featured “Over Here,” I’ve straddled the fence between modest amusement and the aching desire to be impressed. PND has given me glitter, and he’s given me gold, but I have yet to be completely blown away by his music.
Party understands atmosphere. He understand the importance of setting a vibe. He is true to the OVO owl that can be seen on his clothing, the music tends to sound like he comes to life after the stroke of midnight. Only once all the Cinderella's have returned home does the party next door begin. As a vocalist he isn’t the strongest singer, but I don’t believe anyone listens to PND for his vocals - they come for the mood, the tone, the vibes.
To me, personally, his greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. I enjoyed “Come and See Me” until SZA dropped “twoAM” and erased the original from my brain. This happened once before, a few years ago, after the release of PND 1 - I found myself returning to 6lack’s “Break From Atlanta” more than Party’s “Break From Toronto.” Both are excellent in their own right, call it hometown biases, but 6lack’s version won me over. In a way, PND reminds me of the Chrysler 300 joke that Katt Williams made during the height of his hilarity: “It does look like a Phantom, until a Phantom pulls up.”
I enjoy “Sex On The Beach,” “Muse,” “Wus Good/ Curious,” “TBH,” and the recently-released “Don’t Do It For You No More,” but the urge to replay them isn’t consistent, a feeling that comes and goes like Frank Ocean. If I’m in search of R&B that is both trap and trifling, Bryson Tiller has an entire album that weaves the two together. 6lack has returned to releasing music and his entire SoundCloud is based in that same atmosphere, but it’s his songwriting that brings me back for more. PND has proven himself able to write hits, knocking on the door to breaking out of OVO, but his lane is a highway that’s full of cars.
Unless P3 displays an artist that does more than set a mood, but create a compelling atmosphere that only PND can create, the album will have a difficult time holding my attention. I’m not expecting a dud, there’s a big possibility that his next album will be good, maybe even great by the standards set with his previous releases. But you tell me, what would you get more excited for, a Chrysler 300 or a Phantom?
Brendan is Excited for P3
When attempting to argue the merits of PND and his music, and try to convey the excitement I feel in advance of his newest body of work, I must begin with the abstract. PND has mastered the art of setting a vibe. He took the moody, atmospheric sound popularized by Drake and 40 and stripped away any melodramatic sentimentality, leaving behind an aesthetic still custom-fitted for late night listening, but less centered around whining about exes in favor of strange faces and hedonistic impulses. In other words, his music is perfect for alcohol-fueled hookups taking place in the backseat of an Uber.
With his first two eponymous projects and the brief but excellent PNDCOLOURS EP, PND has crafted a world where the party next door never ends. The consequences of excess never make themselves known, and while it's necessary as a listener to find balance with more thoughtful and realistic music, there exist plenty of opportunities where all I want to do is zone out and allow the music to set the mood and take a break from thought.
PND’s Wikipedia page has him listed first as a producer and then singer, an order many might reverse when describing him as an artist, and wrongly so. When it comes to the “mood music” that PND crafts, the stuff you’re pressing play on for the sole point of vibing out, production is the crux on which all other aspects lean. Calling PND a singer is taking away from his standout work behind the boards - from glittering synths on “Welcome To The Party” to the menacing churn of “Options” to the celestial effects that populate the climax and ride-out of “Let’s Get Married.”
PND can perform admirably as a featured guest, a la Drake’s “With You” or Travis Scott’s “Nothing But Net,” but as his cold aversion to monogamy would suggest he’s much better suited on his own. His own project, with his own production and his own songwriting, where his vocal talents and lyrical content matter less as their own entities to be judged and more so as the perspective for the narrative. Maybe throw a Drake feature in there for good measure, press play, and get lost in PND's world of blunt smoke, Hennessy and sex.
With recent, brighter, dancehall-influenced efforts like “Not Nice” and “Don’t Do It For You No More,” PND seems hellbent on proving his versatility by crawling out from the perpetually 3 a.m. world of late-night impulses that he’s occupied so completely. Either this will take away from his biggest strengths or show that it's also possible for him to excel in the daytime hours.
Either way, I'll be looking for new vibes this Friday.
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