Atlanta's black singer-songwriter
Terius "The-Dream" Nash, who had already written
the Britney Spears and Madonna duet Me Against the Music,
Mary J. Blige's Just Fine,
J. Holiday's Bed and Rihanna's Umbrella (2007),
debuted solo with Love/Hate (2007),
produced by Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Carlos "L.O.S. da Mystro" McKinney.
His casual style finds a sophisticated balance between
soul and hip-hop music. The hits are created when that balance is
catchy but velvety irrelevant: Shawty Is Da Shit,
Playin' in Her Hair and Purple Kisses.
The real eloquence of The-Dream is expressed in the
innocent street rap Fast Car (with harpsichord),
in the moving piano-driven lullaby Mama,
and in the colloquial jazzy I Luv Your Girl.
The dark side of his art is well represented by
the fractured pop of Falsetto
and the neurotic rap of She Needs My Love.
He maintains an assertive tone even when disturbed by free-form electronics
as in Nikki.
Orchestration, beat and recitation peak with the aggressive Ditch That,
that is actually rapped/sung by female guests.
The booming disco-oriented Livin' A Lie (featuring Rihanna) sounds
out of context.
Overall, this is a poignant kaleidoscope of melodies, orchestrations and beats.
Beyonce's Single Ladies and Mariah Carey's Touch My Body, Nash
resurrected The-Dream for Love vs Money (2009), an album more focused
(or unfocused) on
melancholy ballads (notably the six-minute Fancy), despite
the glamorous overture of Rockin' That Thang (written by Sean Hall).
He flirts with the dancefloor (the bouncing Walkin' On The Moon, written
by Kanye West who also sings)
and the arena
(the breezy My Love, written by Carlos McKinney and with backing vocals by Mariah Carey)
but not too convincingly.
The heretic role of Ditch That is here played by
Put It Down (another McKinney creation), and
the moving elegy du jour is Right Side Of My Brain.
Overall, this is a much more convetional collection of songs.
His albums were among the first to challenge the Timbaland/Neptunes domination
of black soul-pop music.
Love King (2010) was a minor effort.
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