“I’m here with big bro Drake; I’m his little gunner,” is what PARTYNEXTDOOR told Rolling Stone as he described how he approached the first PND project. He’s right, the first album was like an introduction to the man who was tasked with carrying the torch that The Weeknd left behind; the man who would be the next star from the OVO camp.
What his Rolling Stone interview uncovered, however, is that before Party signed up with Drake, he had a publishing deal as a songwriter with Warner/Chappell when he was just 18-years-old. Even before OVO, Party was making the right moves to pen hits in the music industry.
Frequent Drake collaborator and fellow Canadian Boi-1da had heard about PND locally and brought in Drake and OVO Sound to court the promising petal with the potential to blossom into something big. Not only did PND have Drake wanting to sign him, the deal would be music to the ears of any young artist: “Release your music when you want, have complete control, and do your own thing.” Complete, creative control is poetry when those three magic words are included in a label contract. What PND saw was freedom and guidance from the biggest rap artist from Toronto.
For PND, the decision to sign with what he calls "the home team" was an easy one. "I could go to a label where they don't know how to handle me and they don't care," he reasons. "Or I'll have a mentor who's been through it, who knows exactly what I want to mean to my city and what I want to achieve. They know how to handle your emotions. I'll have freedom and guidance."
Since signing to OVO, PARTYNEXTDOOR hasn’t issued a single disgruntled word about his label. But in the Rolling Stone interview, PND tells a story about the song “Wednesday Night Interlude,” from Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, a song that was originally his but ended up on Drake’s album, which suggests things have changed since he signed on the dotted line. The story is simple—Drake asked him for the song and he complied. In the interview, Party praises Drake for the gesture—allowing a song with only PND’s vocals to appear on his album was huge exposure for the OVO artist—but he also confesses that deep down, he wished he kept the song for himself.
In 2015, Drake used PND's "Wednesday Night Interlude" as the downbeat counterpoint to the combative narratives that dominated his If You're Reading This It's Too Late mixtape. "I was involved with that tape; Drake asked for that song," PND remembers. "I said, 'Are you gonna cut it?' 'No.' He just put it on there. I don't think people do that. I love the fact that he put it on there and people heard it. And I still, to this day, wish I kept that song for my album."
The story isn’t told maliciously, he isn’t bitter by what happened, but he seems conflicted by it. It’s a contradiction to praise Drake for taking the song, but also wish he kept it. A simple “no” would’ve sufficed if PND truly has the creative freedom that was originally promised when he first signed, but I'm sure it isn't that simple.
The story behind “Wednesday Night Interlude” reminds me of another Rolling Stone article with The Weeknd from 2015, during which he also explained how Drake wanted and eventually took songs from House Of Balloons for Take Care. His comments about the situation also seemed conflicted—calling Drake a blessing for helping his career, but also admitting it was hard to give up half his album for this position. To make any steps forward within OVO, music must be given up—a sacrificial ritual to the 6ix God.
PND might have some control, he might have some independence, but it seems there are other stipulations that come with being signed to OVO. Who knows what other songs Drake took that could have been for PND projects, especially the recently released P3? OVO’s entire operation has been huge in assisting Party’s progress, he’s far more known and revered today than ever before. But what has he lost in return? How many songs have been exchanged for that agreed up “freedom”? For the guidance? Every story that reveals what goes on behind the scenes at OVO makes the label appear to be nothing more than a machine that is solely focused on keeping Drake at the mountaintop. Peak Drake indeed.
By Yoh, aka Views From The Yoh aka @Yoh31