Not even halfway through the first verse on P3, PARTYNEXTDOOR’s highly-anticipated third eponymous full-length, the OVO-aligned singer/songwriter/producer flatly admits, “Hey, I just wanna sex, smoke and vibes, baby.” This is obviously the ideal recipe for listening to PND’s music, and that's exactly what he serves up on his latest effort.
It’s been two years since PND’s last album, and nearly that long since the short but excellent PNDCOLOURS EP. Still, 2016 was his biggest year to date, in part due to a high-profile fling with Kylie Jenner that lead to her starring role in his "Come And See Me" music video (and killed many a brain cell for those who kept up to date with their relationship), but mostly due to him earning his first No. 1 hit as a songwriter for his work on Rihanna’s “Work.”
However, despite his massive social following and streaming play counts, PND has yet to truly break through into the mainstream. It remains to be seen how far his influence spreads over the music of his superstar labelhead, Drake, and while he’s seen the roster around him grow, Drizzy’s chart and sales success hasn’t quite been able to do the same for the rest of the OVO camp.
The biggest question surrounding the release is whether P3 is a project that can finally bring PND’s music to the masses, or will he continue to tread water in his lane as the ultimate vibe-setter for Hennessy-fueled sex with strangers?
Now that we've heard it, it's unlikely this album will be spurring any major chart or radio success for PND, but he's stayed true to his world where the party never ends and consequences do not exist, this time with an even more minimal sound. The album suffers from its lengthy runtime, and too many songs that sound too similar, but stripping away the filler should leave fans with enough new music to soundtrack their late-night drives and drunken hookups.
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3 Standout Songs (beyond singles “Come And See Me” and “Not Nice”)
What an intro. Similar to his more throwback-leaning labelmates dvsn and their OVO debut, PND chose to kick off his album with a record that passes the seven-minute mark. Eerie pulsating and machine gun sounds usher the track in, and PND seems to almost creep out of the shadows of a tropical swamp. “No Diggity” interpolation and all, this is one of the more uncomfortable and paranoid songs you’ll ever feel compelled to have sex to. Hopefully it lasts all 7 ½ minutes or things could get awkward.
With its stripped down production and brain-numbing bassline, “Transparency” is jarring and disorienting enough to replicate a drugged out feeling. PND is at his most immoral, choice lines being, “Spend 10 bands girl, for you and your twin sister,” “You love me when the drugs are loud” and of course, “I’m fucking somebody’s daughter.” Next time someone does you dirty, allow this to get you to prime levels of not caring about anything in the world.
After a mid-album lull where listeners won't be quite certain where one song ends and the other begins, the laid-back grooves of “Joy” punch you in the face like a Tempur-Pedic pillow. It’s a strange sensation, like the first time seeing sunshine again after a 72-hour bender. “I wanna feel joy,” pleads PND to an unknown lover on this needed respite from the blunt smoke-filled murk of the preceding tracks.
P3 differs from its predecessors sonically, despite mostly staying grounded in the same perpetually 3AM hedonistic playground. The stripped-down approach works well, but over the course of 16 tracks suffers from a lack of variety. Sure, moments like dancehall-tinged single “Not Nice” and “Joy” add brighter flavor, but not enough to warrant such a long runtime. That said, the next time you’re in the mood for “sex, smoke and vibes,” you have a new 16-track soundtrack that’s custom-fitted for the occasion.
By Brendan Varan. Follow him on Twitter.