Pioneers of New Melody Pt. II
PARTYNEXTDOOR & Ty Dolla $ign
“All these n*ggas out here singing hooks, not real MCing, like they’re using melodies to have a song, and it’s sad that that happened and people think that’s what it is, but now, a lot of that gets on and it’s popular for about a month and then in the next three, six months, year from then, you never hear from those dudes again.” – Ty Dolla $ign, Fader
Welcome back people! If this your first time tuning in to this series, we are discussing the artists who first pioneered the new wave of melodic hip-hop.
Last time, we discussed the likes of Kid Cudi and slightly Drake, but mostly Kid Cudi.
However, this time we are gonna switch it up and discuss two individuals puppeteering the direction of both hip-hop and R&B.
PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO had dropped a month or so prior, and my older brothers and I had came across the music video for a song called “Recognize” by some random artist named PARTYNEXTDOOR. With the Drake seal of approval (aka a Drake feature), we were willing to give him a listen, especially since Drake had been killing the feature game with tracks like “Versace” and “Who Do You Love.” It wasn’t like anything we had heard before, and Party had become our newest obsession. We were absolutely geeking on his music and started stalking his youtube page for more content. Although, due to his mystique and seemingly reclusive nature, we were left clamoring for anything that would give us some insight to who this character was. Yet, we did find something.
His first music video— the holy grail of his artistry…
From the Miguel “The Girl with the Tattoo” sample to Party’s slow and hazy delivery, we were hooked at the 0:01 mark. While one of my older brothers simply appreciated how it sounded sonically, my eldest brother and I viewed it as a musical godsend. We immediately began writing our own remixes, and even going as far as to compete to see who could craft the better version. When we created our very own music project, we were reminded how far we had came with the inclusion of these two versions.
Curation of the Vibes
In terms of trailblazing, Party and Ty were the first in the long line of R&B artists to pick up where T-Pain left off; singers who are supremely talented in their own right, yet use autotune as an aesthetic. As the line between hip-hop and R&B began to further blur in the wake of the 2010s, Party and Dolla became the progenitors of this new wave of R&B that was now known as trap soul. They were both the first line of R&B acts to incorporate trap drums, as well as heavy 808s with their distinguished vocals.
Or, in layman’s terms, they curated the vibes.
“He’s the rare breed that writes, produces, engineers, performs, sings—all in one artist. He’s pulling all of the strings, he’s doing everything, so you hear his final production exactly the way he envisions it” El-Khatib on PARTY, Fader
The prodigal son of OVO Sound, PARTYNEXTDOOR has remained a mystery to fans and critics alike, refraining from doing interviews and letting his music speak for him. Channeling through the waters of his braggadocios introduction in PARTYNEXTDOOR to his latest release of Seven Days, Party has always strived to push and evolve his craft — he is even eager to experiment with all aspects of his production. The addition of an extra (slightly off-putting) snare on his self-produced track titled “Bad Intentions,” or his Thugger-esque cadence on “Freak in You,” and on Ye’s “Wouldn’t Leave” serve to remind listeners why they can never confine him to a simple label.
Speaking of labels, perhaps the biggest effect he has had on the industry is his relationship with his label owner, Drake. I was impressed to see that he received his very own solo track on Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. A honor only bestowed to Compton’s very own, Kendrick Lamar. A joke has been tossed around by my friends and I about the myth of the “OVO Sweatshop” after the beef between Meek Mill and Drake back in 2015. If you had been living under a rock during this time, there was speculation that Drake had an entire harem of songwriters, such as PND, gather under the umbrella of OVO Sound that were the key to Drake’s yearlong succession of hits. Rumors of this clearly have gone down after the mending of their relationship, however, the effect Party had upon Drake is undeniable; especially during the creation of Views and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
Ty Dolla $ign
“I’m a singer that crossed into the hip-hop world because I can make the club songs and all that…I just do music. And I study music and it doesn’t matter what situation you throw me in, I’ll be able to snap. I put my sauce on whatever it is.” – Ty Dolla $ign, Fader
Ty Dolla $ign, the hardest working artist in the industry. This man is a walking stimulus package for any artist that is struggling to make a hit.
Truth be told, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Ty when his first major track, “Paranoid,” hit the airwaves. I initially wrote him off as another club rapper, in the same vein as French Montana, and disregarded his catalog— excluding a couple of singles [“Blasé” and “Or Nah”]. Lucky enough for me, my dog Chris from “The Town” [Portland, Oregon] praised Dolla $ign’s music and checked me for being so closed minded in my younger days. He was always one to reevaluate my opinion on an artist or a project, so the next day I sat on my couch, loaded up Campaign on my loudspeaker, and listened without any interruptions. After the final track was finished, I immediately played Free TC.
…Upon revision with about four years of life experience, BOY WAS I WRONG ABOUT DOLLA $IGN.
I was bugging out so hard that I wish I could run fades with my past self.
Ever the perfectionist, each one of his projects has this seamless flow from song to song, making every project feel like one long continuous song. Speaking of which, his songs are filled to the brim with a wide array of instruments that you don’t usually find in hip-hop or contemporary R&B.
“At first I was just being the homie and every time somebody would ask me, I was like, ‘Yeah.’ Then [my publicist] started complaining and other people at Atlantic like, ‘Yo, we need to save some of this shit for your shit.’ I’m like, ‘Fuck y’all man, just let me do music.’ …You gon’ always hear my shit, so it’s cool” – Ty Dolla $ign, Fader
“I’m here. I could be here. I’m not Drake’s sidekick…I’m looking for joy. It’s a moment for Rihanna and Drake. I want to invest time in creating moments for myself.”- PARTYNEXTDOOR, GQ & Rolling Stone
Party and Dolla are so instrumental to the sound of contemporary music that even when you aren’t listening to a song by them, you are most likely still hearing them. PND began his career as a songwriter, which is a skill that has lead to numerous Grammy noms and the creation of some of the biggest summer hits of 2010.
Credited for writing and producing Rihanna’s “Work,” as well as offering an ear and bouncing ideas off of Drake during the creation of Views, we can thank PND for the inception of the three hit summer ’16 rotation of “Work,” “Controlla,” and “One Dance.” Then the following year, Party kept attacking the neck of the summer charts by co-producing the instrumental and crafting Rihanna’s verse in DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts.”
Not to mention, he wrote and produced Rihanna’s “Sex with Me,” produced tracks on Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late [“Legend,” “Preach,” and “Wednesday Night Interlude”], and wrote Beyonce’s section on Khaled’s “Shining.”
In Dolla $ign’s case, the number of guest appearances and features he has done for other artists is astounding. He is credited for having over 114 guest appearances and 90+ features throughout his decade long career; so, even if it ain’t a Dolla track, keen ears will pick his vocals out from the background. Some have criticized Dolla on this tactic, viewing it as spreading himself too thin and giving his best work to other artists.
Also, just like with Party, Dolla is no stranger to producing major records for his contemporaries. He co-produced arguably the best track on Kanye’s Ye [“Wouldn’t Leave”], the titular song on YG’s Still Brazy and on his “magna barta” of My Krazy Life [“Still Brazy” and “Really Be”], and tracks for both Problem and Trey Songz.
From the stance of R&B, these two have clearly left their mark on the game, but stayed tuned to the next installment where we will be discussing the future of melodious hip-hop in respect to two Southern rappers.
– August Jefferson