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Photo By Warner Records

“I Stood You Up That Was My Bad…”

Canada’s been up for a minute now. Today, they boast arguably the world’s most famous musician in Drake, have an incredibly talented national football team that’s managed to qualify for the World Cup (where their roster includes a Champions League winning superstar in Alphonso Davies amongst their ranks), and house an NBA Championship in the Toronto Raptors’ cabinet, won in very recent memory and prompting euphoric celebrations.

Many of the country’s cities perform highly in quality-of-life metrics, in and amongst some of the most esteemed locations in the entire world. Indeed, Canada is a vast country with potential to continue scaling at an enormous rate. Furthermore, they have quite an array of the world’s most in demand and followed content creators online (albeit, controversial as well). In short, Canada’s influence is truly at the forefront of modern-day culture, particularly in the age of social media driven hedonism and recency bias.

Whilst their boisterous neighbors in the USA stuck their chests out for years, exporting the absolute best in all thing’s entertainment, the Canadians appeared to quietly hibernate in the shadows, savoring their position as a Machiavellian understudy, ready to shine at their chosen moment. For the last ten years or so, that moment has been and is now. But as with every success story that involves the collective, there’s always a few that are left short-changed.

It seems absurd to suggest that an artist who has over thirteen million streams and listeners a month on Spotify is underappreciated. It may even be callous to think that a man with two number one albums on the R&B charts hasn’t scaled the heights his talent warrants. Yet with PARTYNEXTDOOR, it feels like there’s an undiscovered level that he or his fans have yet to have tapped into. This doesn’t even begin to fathom the sheer quality of his penmanship and production for others, in addition to his own material.

PARTYNEXTDOOR was born in Toronto, with his parents hailing from Trinidad and Jamaica. The 6's melting pot is something that has been well documented through his and his labelmates’ lyrics, with descendants from the Caribbean being a driving force in music and the arts, treading similar paths as London, New York, or other bubbling cultural hubs in the western world. It was Party’s Trinidadian father who first introduced him to the world of R&B, where he would immerse himself in the sounds and articulate lyrics from the likes of Jodeci, Boyz II Men and Blackstreet.

Toronto’s notoriously cold winters and hot summers result in interesting dynamics picked up by its residents. One minute, the sun is shining, summer vibes are flowing, and life is at it’s peak. But come winter, you can find yourself secluded, distant and away from your most beloved companions for months on end. Staying occupied can prove to be a challenge, but young Party chose music as his focus, starting out as “Jahron B” (a play on his name Jahron Anthony Braithwaite) before settling on PARTYNEXTDOOR inspired by the name of a preset filter to use on the music production program Fruity Loops. Creative, abstract, and overly ambitious, Party would produce and write his own music.

His break came at age 18 when he signed to Warner/Chappell as a songwriter. His songwriting ability was an obvious talent, and he managed to be seen by OVO Sound through their joint venture with Warner records. This would be in and around 2013, where you may recall was a period where Drake really propelled into superstardom off the back of his acclaimed “Take Care” album. During this time, Drake was sounding out all of Canada’s hottest prospects, with PND and The Weeknd being the most notorious targets.

Party’s signing with OVO would be announced on the label’s blog site alongside the release of his debut single, “Make A Mil,” which was an early glimpse into his artistry and distinct journey he aimed to capture in his music. He strikes a healthy balance between R&B and electronic music, exploring substance abuse, relationships and general encounters living in a city that runs on ‘til the late in the night. He produced the entirety of his debut EP, “PARTYNEXTDOOR,” introducing himself to winder audiences.

He kicked on from his hype with three more installments of his self-titled EP in addition to other short projects and delivering four solo albums. Amid his personal success, Party also had noticeable production and writing credits on some huge hits – his fingerprints can be felt and heard across many of Drake’s best work, as well as Rihanna’s “Work,” which was quite simply a cultural phenomenon. But depending on who you’d ask, you’ll probably get a mixed response as to whether PND is worthy of his flowers, or even if he’s been able to save his best work for himself.

And this is where we reach the frustrating, and at times, perplexing situation around PARTYNEXTDOOR. His standing in R&B, pop, and general influence on the world of music or culture should never be understated. If Drake has defined this generation (numbers wise at least, regardless of your opinion), why is his go-to man and most trusted collaborator not as near to the forefront as him? Many could only dream of having the loyalty of his followers, but whether it’s a case of PND not being able to reach those heights himself, or just a product of how the game has panned out, remains to be seen. It’s interesting to see how The Weeknd reached a stratospheric status as a modern-day icon after turning down the chance to rep OVO, while Party, who’s equally as talented, has a relatively smaller piece of the pie as he does.

Drake may well be his superior as far as the hierarchy of the OVO Sound label goes, but without him, he’s missing a sizeable piece of body armor. There are many lines of thought as to why PARTYNEXTDOOR may or may not reach the level his supporters know he can, but like his country, whether he jumps out from the background or plots his moves in the distance is something that he’ll likely have to make happen on his own accord.

Written by: @WhosAria

Bars Of Wisdom

In collaboration with Insight.