PARTYNEXTDOOR gets compared to The Weeknd, but a debut mixtape proves that he's no carbon copy.
Mississauga R&B singer PARTYNEXTDOOR—yes, that’s how you spell it, all caps, no spaces—may have received the ultimate mixed blessing. On one hand, getting a Drake co-sign has turned the previously unknown PARTY into one of the most talked-about artists not only in Canada, but in R&B as a whole. On the other hand, he’ll now have to spend at least the first part of his career being referred to as “The Weeknd’s replacement.”
For those of you who weren’t paying attention, Drizzy and his last big R&B discovery had a fairly major falling out earlier this year when The Weeknd signed to Universal instead of Drake’s OVO label. (The two seem to have sort of patched things up since.) Nonetheless, it was only a few weeks after Drake and Abel’s big breakup that PARTYNEXTDOOR started getting a fair bit of notice on music blogs.
PARTY and The Weeknd have similarities beyond both being friends with Drake. Both of them have a well-cultivated air of mystery about them. Both of them trade in the same subgenre, a kind of ethereal, slightly forlorn brand of R&B that’s a little further away from the genre’s gospel roots and a little closer to downtempo electronic music and cloud rap. (Yes, it’s what many folks would call hipster R&B, or PBR&B.) They have similar voices. They both insist on spelling their names in funny ways.
That said, there are some fairly major differences between them.
While The Weeknd may be the bigger pop star at the moment, PARTYNEXTDOOR has the more pop-chart-ready sound. His vocals are cleaner. While he often paints in the same muted tones as Abel Tesfaye, there are points on his self-titled debut where he goes for it and straight-up sings. He refuses to play cool and hold back on “TBH,” or on the back half of “Break from Toronto.” (You can listen to “TBH” by clicking on the sample above.) Unlike The Weeknd, he’s capable of sounding celebratory for short bursts. If “Right Now” was just a few beats per minute quicker, it would be an outright party jam. PARTY is also much more of a Drake/Future-style hip-hop/R&B hybrid. He straight-up raps at the beginning of “Break from Toronto,” and definitely straddles the line between rhyming and singing on “Relax with Me” and “Right Now.”
PARTYNEXTDOOR probably knew the sort of comparisons he was inviting when he signed up to be Drake’s new singing buddy, but the positives have already far outweighed the negatives for him. (Sure, we’d probably write about him either way, but would Fader pay any attention to him if Drake didn’t have a guest verse on “Over Here”? Probably not.) That said, his self-titled debut proves that he has the potential to be much more than just a Weeknd clone, and it’s hard to argue with anything that draws more international attention to the city’s rapidly growing R&B scene.