The-Dream - IV Play

Production: The-Dream, Carlos McKinney, CJ Williams

Lead Single: Slow It Down

Avg Rating: 32101   3.3 ( 6 votes )

     

PREVIEW BUY READ REVIEW

Hitmaking R&B/pop singer, songwriter and producer The-Dream has released his fifth studio album, IV Play, on Def Jam Records. Aside from last year's half-hearted re-release of previously-released free album 1997, IV Play serves as the Radio Killa head honcho's first new full-length since 10's Love King.

While the previously-released, Booth-approved cut "Slow It Down" and the album's title track are the only tracks to be officially released off the album as singles, other featured selections on the set include "High Art," "Where Have You Been?," "Turnt" and bonus track "TRON." Joining the North Carolina born artist are special guests 2 Chainz, Beyonce, Big Sean, Fabolous, Jay-Z, Kelly Rowland and Pusha T.

Fans can also check out The Dream's previous albums: The-Dream - Royalty: The PrequelThe-Dream - 1977 (Deluxe Re-Release)The-Dream - Love King

DJBooth Album Review


As an artist ages, they can become stuck in an ongoing battle with their fans. They want to change to stay relevant and explore new creative territory, their fans want more of the same music they first fell in love with. Artists might complain that fans’ desire to keep them in a box is stifling, but in many ways the fans are right. If I open a bottle of Patron, I don’t want vodka to pour out. I grabbed the Patron because I wanted tequila, and I know Patron makes a good tequila. Similarly, I don’t want to press play on a Miguel album and trap bangers are coming out of my speakers, or press play on a Freddie Gibbs album and hear him singing like Miguel. Every major company in the world was built on consistency and dependability, including companies artists themselves buy from, so why should their music be any different?

On the other hand, music is different. It’s not just about dependability and predictability, it’s about emotion, the rush of discovery, the joy of having an artist take us somewhere we didn’t even know we wanted to go. How an artist manages to walk that tightrope between consistency and creativity, between giving fans what they want and breaking new ground, determines their longevity. Stay stagnant and you’re gone, travel too far outside your lane and you’re gone. It’s a nearly impossible balance to strike, but no one said a long career in music was supposed to be easy.

In many ways The-Dream’s new album, IV Play, finds him sitting at exactly those crossroads. Excluding 1977, a free project that was later turned into an “album”, IV Play finds Dream delving into more sounds and styles than ever before. On his classic Love vs. Hate and Love vs. Money albums he mastered a kind R&B that was somehow simultaneously organic and electronic, babymaking-inducing and heartbroken. By contrast, IV Play contains far more guest features than any previous project, is his first without any production from “Tricky” Stewart, and the first time it begins to feel like he’s chasing trends instead of setting them.

Case in point, the ironically unlistenable TRON, a track dedicated to proving Dream’s originality by…having him adopt the kind of quasi-EDM production and vocal-shifted trap rapping that’s so currently overplayed. If there’s anyone who wants to hear the same man who made the gripping Take U Home 2 My Mama make something like TRON, I don’t know them. On the same note, hearing him pour on the Auto-Tune on a ballad like Self Conscious is as unnecessary as Dirk Digler taking ExtenZe. (Warning, that reference is quasi-NSFW if you find yourself needing to look it up.) Some of IV Play’s other offerings are a little harder to categorize. There’s no denying the catchiness of Pu**y, the man still knows how to throw down a hell of a hook, but it’s odd to hear him, and Big Sean, adopt the same stuttering, chopped flow Future has so thoroughly popularized. (I know Dream would say otherwise, so listen to TRON for his side of the story…if you can.) Similarly, Turn Up is hypnotically catchy and no surprise Beyonce kills her sections, but especially with a 2 Chainz verse, multiple “ratchet” shout outs and title like Turn Up, it feels like he's trying too hard. I’ll need more time before I can definitively say I don’t like Pu**y, Turn Up and High Art. I have to figure out if I’m being a grumpy old fan, but for now I can say I’ve never had these hesitancies about a Dream album before.

Never fear though, there are some moments of the good 'ol Dream here. While he never does the “one track seamlessly transitioning into another” I thought was his true trademark (see Sex Intelligent into Sex Intelligent Remix), those eager to buy diapers in nine months will find some welcome material on IV Play, starting with the title track: the hypnotic beat, the harmonies, the NSFW lyrics, now this is what I come to a Dream album looking for. I can say the same for the spacey and dysfunctionally sexy New Orleans, Too Early, featuring some serious blues influence from Gary Clark Jr. and the slowly unwinding Equestrian, but oddly for an album titled IV Play, I just don’t see this album playing continuously while you…um…play Scrabble with your significant other in bed.

Do I want The-Dream to make Love vs. Money over and over again. Well, considering I think Love vs. Money is one of the best R&B albums of the last decade, yes, yes I do. So maybe I am stuck in the past, maybe IV Play just needs a chance to really grow on me. It’s a possibility, but ultimately, those “oh sh*t!” moments I had on every previous Dream album? Those moments when you couldn't even to wait for the song to finish before hitting rewind? They’re not here for me on this album. I’m willing to follow Dream to new territory, but first I need to trust he knows where he’s doing. Right now, I don’t.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins


  Written by on 05/30/13


Submit your Rating

 
 
 
 
 

Related Songs & Features


The-Dream ft. Gary Clark Jr. - Too Early Artwork
Artist: The Dream
Featuring: Gary Clark Jr.
Album: IV Play
Even hitmaking singer/songwriters with fantastic sex lives get the blues from time to time. Don’t believe me? Just take a listen to The-Dream‘s latest single, Too Early, which finds the... More
Posted one year ago
32121
The-Dream ft. Beyoncé & 2 Chainz - Turnt Artwork
Artist: The Dream
Featuring: Beyoncé | 2 Chainz
Song: Turnt
Album: IV Play
The-Dream‘s last feature, single selection Where Have You Been, saw him sharing a tender moment with Kelly Rowland. Now, with his new album so close I can almost taste it, the Radio Killa has... More
Posted one year ago
21021
The-Dream - IV Play Artwork
Artist: The Dream
Song: IV Play
Album: IV Play
If you are having trouble deciphering the title of the latest effort from The-Dream, why not take a page from Bart Simpson’s book and look to the Rocky series for guidance? (Rocky IV is the one... More
Posted one year ago
32101
The-Dream ft. Jay-Z - High Art Artwork
Artist: The Dream
Featuring: Jay Z
Album: IV Play
Incredibly, it’s been almost three years since we’ve gotten a proper album from The-Dream. (No, I’m not counting the mixtapet-turned-quasi-album-1977). But the wait is almost over,... More
Posted one year ago
32101
The-Dream - TRON Artwork
Artist: The Dream
Song: TRON
Album: IV Play
Not content simply juggling the roles of singer, singerwriter and producer, The-Dream has added yet another skill to his repertoire: rapping. On TRON, the latest single off his fifth studio album, the... More
Posted one year ago
21021
 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

DJBooth TV




Flame

TOP 20 MUSIC CHARTS


Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.