PARTYNEXTDOOR – PARTYNEXTDOOR 3 (P3)
The third of his self-titled serious of releases and highly anticipated sophomore album, PARTNEXTDOOR 3 contains Jahron Anthony Brathwaite’s most engaging and personal material yet. PARTY bares his soul on P3 as he croons about failed relationships and lost love over murky, sparse production that’s become a trademark of his sound.
Taking cues from his mentor Drake, P3 opens with the seven and-a-half epic High Hopes. PARTY’s seductive vocals tell the tale of wanting to get back with an old flame over a menacing beat – including an interloping of Blackstreet’s No Diggity – setting the scene for what is to come. Nothing Easy To Please is a sultry number about how hard it is for PARTY to fall in love, You’ve Been Missed finds him wallowing in self pity when his girl is gone and Problems & Selfless delves into issues PARTY’s encountered in past relationships and how it affected him.
While his early work is heavily autotuned, PARTY strips it back a little on P3, allowing his natural vocals to shine on tracks like Temptations and the atmospheric Spiteful, a track that includes a glorious 80s guitar solo. It’s these moments where PARTY’s unaffected voice gives an added layer of emotion to his lyrics and showcases his diversity.
1942 takes a break from the heartache, with PARTY toasting Don Juilo 1942 tequila, in what is one of the albums more commercial sounding tracks. PARTY also changes things up on a number of other songs, mimicking fellow Toronto native Ramriddlz’s flow on Don’t Run and trying his hand at dancehall on the Controlla-esque Not Nice, and to a lesser-extent on the reggae vibe of Only U. Of course it would’d be a PARTY album without a Drake cameo, with the OVO boss jumping on a classic Noah “40” Shebib beat for the booty call sleeper Come And See Me.
Verdict: One for those late lonely nights.
iLoveMakonnen – Red Trap Dragon
Having left Drake’s OVO Sound label and announced his retirement, iLoveMakonnen has decided he’s not done just yet, returning with the Danny Wolf produced Red Trap Dragon. As the title suggests, the mixtape’s production is heavy with deep 808s and stinging hi-hats, with Makonnen singing and rapping in his unique, stilted style.
As he declares on No Features, Makkonen doesn’t need any help with his career (a possible dig at Drake?), setting the tone for the tape. Makonnen spends the majority of the album talking himself up and how successful he really is. The Atlanta rapper takes shots at everyone biting his flow on Sound Like Who?, raps about his riches and trading his Hummer for a BMW on Always Countin’, and how he started from the bottom on Came From Nothin.
Of course it’s not all sunshine and lollipops, with Makonnen losing his girl on She Don’t Call No More and rapping about how the drugs help him late at night on Get Me Back Up. Man of the moment Lil Yachty and fellow Atlanta artist Skippa Da Flippa are the tape’s only guests, turning up on final track Loaded Up.
Red Trap Dragon is nothing new from Makonnen, and while I enjoy his voice, I can understand why he’s a divisive figure. The real star of the mixtape is Wolf, who has quickly built a reputation for crafting enticing beats capturing the Atlanta sound and providing a solid platform for Makonnen to showcase his stuff.
Verdict: A decent return from Makonnen but nothing to get overly excited about.
Raye – SECOND
The debut major label release from South London’s Raye, SECOND is a modern take on R&B that justifies the hype surrounding the 18 year old. The five track EP incorporates a number of styles, from the synth-driven, Charli XCX co-written opener I,U, Us to the downtempo 808 slow burner Tell Me, with Raye’s soothing vocals ever present.
To be honest, every song on SECOND is a winner. The electro-meets-pop Shhh has hit written all over it, with Raye telling her former partner, “You can leave, you can leave, I don’t want you to wait,” over a beat that reminds me of 90s R&B. This theme of escaping negative people continues on the spacey, finger-clicking production of Distraction, a track originally released earlier this year as part of her two track Back 2 The Winter EP. Then there’s album closer, Ambition, featuring one of grimes biggest stars in Stormzy. The beat combines elements of hip-hop and electronica and is the perfect foil for Raye’s soulful vocals, with Stormzy reigning in his rapid flow for a more subtle approach.
Verdict: Get around Raye before she blows up.
The Get Down – Soundtrack
Over the weekend Baz Luhrmann’s new Netflix series, The Get Down, finally premiered to mixed reviews. Centering on the origins of hip-hop and a group of rag-tag kids caught up in the hysteria, the show appears to be a classic Luhrmann production; visually stunning but with a narrative that often loses its way and makes for complicated viewing. Be that the case, similar to the Suicide Squad soundtrack, this compilation is top notch, featuring a wide array of artists and genres influenced by the sounds of the late 70s.
At 24 tracks long, The Get Down has all bases covered when it comes to highlighting the different musical trends during the shows setting. Miguel and Janelle Monáe bring the funk respectively on Cadillac and Hum Along And Dance (Gotta Get Down), C.J. & Co. flirt with disco on Devil’s Gun while disco legend Nile Rodgers lends his skills to the soaring Set Me Free and dance floor thumper Telepathy, a song featuring Christina Aguilera on vocals. Along with Aguilera, there are a number of notable modern performers featured, with Leon Bridges reworking The Temptations Ball Of Confusion, former One Direction star Zayn Malik hooking up with Teddy Pendergrass and Grandmaster Flash on the smooth You Can’t Hide/You Can’t Hide From Yourself (Touch of Class GMF Remix)”, and Michael Kiwanuka pairing with one of the show’s producers, Nas for a couple of old school hip-hop themed tracks.
Along with the big name musicians, the stars of the show also get the chance to flex their voices, with the most recognised being Jaden Smith. He opens the soundtrack with the blistering Welcome To The Get Down and collaborates with Raury on the folk-meets-hip-hop Losing Your Mind. Justice Smith, who plays the show’s lead Ezekiel, has some of his rhymes and poetry included from the show, but it’s Herizen F. Guardolia, who plays female lead and Ezekiel’s love interest Mylene Cruz, whose singing matches her acting. Be That As It May is a high hitting ballad and the aforementioned Nile Rodgers track Set Me Free is something you’d expect to hear when in the famed Studio 54.Verdict: Quality collection of 70s inspired tracks