Partynextdoor and R&B’s Never-Ending Wooz

The release of Partynextdoor’s third album, PX3 or Partynextdoor 3 has been greeted by a growing realization that this Canadian singer is a bona fide R&B star. After all, it was only three years ago when critics derided the Toronto singer’s debut as a Faustian cataclysm of Future’s croon, the Weeknd’s anomie, and Drake’s suburban blues. Yet partly thanks to Drake’s cosign, each of his albums have performed better than the last, with his recent “Come and See Me” single being the first to crack the pop charts. His music fits snugly into the genre’s taste for what has been described as “woozy” R&B, a electronic conceit that once seemed like an innovation with the Weekend’s 2010 trio of EPs and Miguel’s “Adorn” smash, but which, over five years later, now looks like an artistic cul-de-sac. However, unlike other genres, tastemakers don’t determine the course of R&B – the audience does. Twitter trolls may love to crack jokes about Bryson Tiller’s overly familiar blend of screwed rap&B, but his album still went platinum. And Drake’s continued dominance needs no unpacking here. Like it or not, the electronic, synthesized “wooz” of post-millennial R&B clichés seems like it will be with us for the immediate future.