Jahron Anthony Brathwaite, better known as PARTYNEXTDOOR, is a mysterious man. After breaking into the scene in 2013 as Drake’s first signee on his OVO Sound label, he quietly released his self-titled debut project; a hazy introduction into PND’s world of lust-fueled passion. He upped the ante the following year with PARTYNEXTDOOR 2, an even moodier project that cemented his place among R&B’s next big stars. Though a quiet and private man, his music is where he speaks the loudest; he produces, writes and sometimes engineers most of it himself. His songs range from direct pleas for company (“Right Now,” “Relax With Me”) to stretched-out ominous yearning (“Thirsty,” “Persian Rugs”). On his highly anticipated second LP PARTYNEXTDOOR 3, he brings both to the table in his most ambitious project yet.
Right off the bat we get a taste of this ambition. First track “High Hopes” is an eerie track that has Party experimenting with multiple flows/vocal styles. Spanning over 7 minutes, it’s a fitting introduction to the album, as it’s quite unlike anything the 23-year-old has ever done. “Brown Skin” is also as polarizing vocal-wise. During the chorus Party repeats “All cause I need your love” over haunting yet playful clangs. His conviction is very apparent; you believe everything he’s saying, but it can sound a little off-putting.
Lyrically Party’s still singing about his favorite subject: women. Though his affinity for one night stands and casual sex is well-documented throughout his discography, he’s still a romantic at heart. On “Joy” he serenades his lover over an elegant piano interlude, declaring that she’s his one source of happiness, even though they may have taken the relationship longer than it needed to be. Next track “You’ve Been Missed” has the Mississauga singer admitting that he misses his girl over blasts of spacey synths. “It’s so lonely in the six right now,” he lulls. “When you coming over baby?” He continues this particular theme but the role is reversed on lead single “Come and See Me,” where he and Drake explore their (and men in general) unwillingness to commit and meet up when sex is out of the question. Arguably the most pure R&B song on the record, the joint highlights Party’s singing well, unlike some other songs on the record.
With dancehall currently experiencing a serious second wind, thanks in part to Drake and OVO’s team of producers like Boi-1da and Nineteen85, Party decides to get in on the action. After writing Rihanna’s smash hit “Work,” he elects to show what he can do in the spotlight. “Not Nice” carries a similar beat to the other myriad of dancehall hits scattered across the top 100, and has Party detailing the contrast between inner and outer beauty. “…Girl, you look so nice/But you’re not nice, you’re rude.” While it’s a single, the very next song “Only U” is perhaps the album’s true island gem. The fusion of the two genres; the catchy dancehall and crooning R&B works perfectly, while Party delivers one of his best vocal performances on the whole album.
As stated previously, this is an ambitious project. Some of the songs and ideas are fine, but they’re definitely hit or miss, especially vocal wise. The production was there; an empty canvas for Party to paint his stories on but songs like “1942,” “Transparency” and the aforementioned “Brown Skin,” fall flat. Nonetheless, the music is unmistakeably his, therefore there’s nothing on P3 that takes away from his talent or potential. However, we have to keep waiting for his masterpiece.