Favorite Track: "CANDY (feat. Nipsey Hussle)"
Least Favorite Track: "CUFFED UP (feat. Quavo)"
In 2012 Drake was far from the influential artist that he would become, but fresh off of his 2011 classic album, Take Care, it seemed as if nothing could stop him. Shortly after the release of his sophomore LP, Drizzy announced and founded OVO records, his notorious record label that would go on to develop acts like DVSN, Majid Jordan, and Roy Woods into superstars. However, no name in Drake’s army rivals PARTYNEXTDOOR; who was OVO’s first signed artist. The Canada native grew up in Mississauga, a large city that neighbors Drake’s beloved Toronto. Him being the first artist signed under Drake’s label made all too much sense on paper. The problem is that ever since that moment in 2013, PARTYNEXTDOOR has failed to differentiate himself from that of where he came from. Never has a PARTY project felt original in concept, his entire career has musically aligned with Drake’s. This wouldn’t be a problem if he had his own sound or maintained a discrete or unique identity as an artist, but he doesn’t. He has never done something musically without Drake doing it first.
The main difference between the careers of each prospective artist is that Drake has gone through musical progression whereas PARTYNEXTDOOR has essentially made the same project over and over again for more than half a decade. An obvious example of this can be seen on track six of PARTY’s latest EP: PARTYPACK. The sixth track, entitled “DON’T DO IT FOR YOU NO MORE”, sounds like the synergy of the Jamican influence that we saw Drake exhibit of Views and every lackluster R&B track that he shared with us on Nothing Was The Same: the result lacks its own identity. A large portion of PARTYPACK is made up of leaks, deep cuts, and unreleased material, it pulls from many different places: It too seems to be having an identity crisis.
If you’ve listened to any of PARTY’s previous five projects, you won't be surprised to learn that PARTYPACK displays a true lack of interesting production. Surprisingly, the vast majority of what is here is self-produced. With that being said, I don’t think that PARTYNEXTDOOR proves himself as a more than sufficient producer. I can’t say that the production is sloppy or poorly-done; that’s just not true. The mixes on PARTYPACK are not deafening by any means, Instead the problem in this EP’s production is the sheer lack of sonic ingenuity displayed across these beats. Take the opener for example, “PERSIAN RUGS”. Many PARTYNEXTDOOR fans prize this cut as one of the greatest and most defining moments of the artist’s early career. Personally, I’d rather watch paint dry. To my ears, this track’s instrumental is incredibly bland. One dissonant chord repeated and drenched in reverb, some understated drums, and some monotonous auto crooning isn’t enough to hold my attention.
This lack of instrumental variance becomes a theme across the seven songs offered on PARTYPACK. “THINGS & SUCH” is just one more example. The song was originally entitled “Kehlani’s Freestyle” on Soundcloud, one might assume that a personal and direct ballad of this nature would invoke a more emotionally captivating beat, and a more specific message. Instead PARTY opts for a bare soundscape with trap hi-hats, some light choral touches, and what sounds like feedback from a synthesizer. Lyrically, PARTY brags about his sex-appeal and loyalty. Then he fills out the rest of the track with mind numbing and indistinguishable vocal riffing. It’s truly hard to sit through.
The one track on PARTYPACK that transitions from boring to offensive is “CUFFED UP (feat. Quavo)”. The cut’s monotonous, annoying, elementary, and cringe worthy hook is absent of any sort of legitimate lyrical capacity, and becomes almost unlistenable due to the repetitive and off putting nature of its performance. It’s easily this EP’s worst moment but simultaneously the defining moment of the second half. It is one of the only points on the project that is actually memorable, yet It’s memorable for all the wrong reasons. Quavo’s verse is as soulless as expected, yet it even serves as a breath of fresh air and a moment to escape the track’s chorus before it comes back to further run itself into the ground and double down on it’s headache-inducing nature.
The ultimate and defining issue that I have with PARTYPACK is that it simply isn’t engaging. Every time I have it on, it loses me before I can get through half of it. It isn’t hard to listen to for a track or two, the majority of it isn’t too offensive or sonically off putting, I couldn’t even see myself rushing to turn it off if It were playing at a party or on the radio. The problem lies in the fact that It falters when it is presented in a packaged and formatted tracklist, sitting through it’s twenty-four minutes without losing interest becomes a tall task. It is soulless, and it’s sound becomes so monotonous that you’ll forget it’s on: it’s simply that un-notable. Despite how hard I try to recall one, I really struggle to list a moment on this project that stands out. Somehow, I came out of it knowing less about PARTYNEXTDOOR than I knew coming in. He has failed to put any of himself into his music, creating a piece so removed that at times it doesn’t even sound human. PARTYPACK runs like one track, with no instrumental or vocal variance it feels like one flawed idea stretched into twenty-four minutes. It has no identity of its own, conforming to whatever the listener is actively doing while it plays, it becomes vacant background music to forget about after it’s runtime comes to a close.