PartyNextDoor and Drake: The Questionable Collaboration
I wish I could be a super fan like the people who wave the flag for Drake or Beyonce or Nicki. I admire it because faith in an artist is trust and they have absolute faith. I have trust issues. So we’ve heard the reference tracks where Quentin Miller does Legend and Company. It would be easier to adopt an old head mentality and assume that means Drizzy never wrote anything, that he has a farm of writers cranking out stuff. Problem with that: Where were those dudes when Drake was coming up on the mixtape scene? Nobody rappers don’t get ghostwriters. Drake is still Drake. When he aligned with Weeknd he definitely pulled vibes from him and then Quentin and now I can identify a Drake-PartyNextDoor collab before you even tell me it is.
End of 2019 Drake did his epic Rap Radar podcast and was asked about his relationship with writers. He said he loves writing with others and gives people on OVO the freedom Wayne gave him. PartyNextDoor works at his own pace and hasn’t flooded the market because he doesn’t want to. Drake has featured on every release and tried his best to elevate his writing partner. Some of that makes sense. I’m not in the room so whenever I hear Party in Drake’s stuff and confirm it via writing credit I can’t snicker that he is using him because Party might just be chilling and enjoying the process. During the podcast interview Drake took some time to pitch the power and importance of artistic collaboration. It’s a complicated thing to discuss in a genre that started with one on one battles with singular credit to the winner.
Music history provides plenty of examples. The one I have been thinking about is Billy Strayhorn. He was a renouned Jazz composer, arranger, pianist as well as Duke Ellington’s right hand man for three decades. The maddening part was his sensibilities were so in line with Duke that Jazz historians have had a hard time separating which work is Strayhorn’s which is Duke’s and which is a combination. From Wikipedia: Though Duke Ellington took credit for much of Strayhorn’s work, he did not maliciously drown out his partner. Ellington would make jokes onstage like, “Strayhorn does a lot of the work but I get to take the bows!” Strayhorn floats around the legacy of Duke as do lots of other meaningful players who put in long stretches of work during his long reign in Jazz while contributing mightily.
When PartyNextDoor dropped his new album Partymobile I couldn’t help but wonder if Party isn’t the pure manifestation of dark R&B Drake (post-WEEKND). All you have to do is listen to Loyal and then Savage Anthem and you’ll want to go back and credit check on some of Drake’s harsher R&B. Drake does not use collaborators like Kanye has but he doesn’t not use them. One thing I am dead certain about: PartyNextDoor would be a much bigger deal in music if he wasn’t with Drake. Partymobile is good. How many people know Strayhorn wrote Take The A Train? If he had his own trio and had his name all over it, more people would. It is like Ice-T always says: it doesn’t matter if you’re the best, another will come along and people will give your crown away. It’s better to be first so they can never ghost you out of history.