My biggest failing as a writer is that I can never accurately assess whether an album is truly a classic on the day I drop the review. Bombarded with a constant barrage of new music, I get to spend a few days with an album at most before I write about it, but a classic album is, by definition, one that grabs you by the soul ten years, twenty years, fifty years after the day you first heard it. In the year-plus since I called The-Dream’s Love vs. Money a “near-classic”, the album has proven …
DJBooth Album Review
So when I first listened to The-Dream’s latest opus Love King and found myself just a shade disappointed, I had to take a deep breath. Not only does Love King, through no fault of its own, not have the same positive associations as its predecessor (yet), but if anyone has earned my patience, it’s Terius Youngdell Nash. Made once again with constant production partners Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Los da Mystro, Love King has more than enough supremely gripping moments to make me hopeful that, given time, it can join Love vs. Money in R&B’s elite ranks.
The-Dream does two things on his albums that no one else in mainstream R&B does; build and follow story arcs and seamlessly blend tracks into each other, creating, in essence, incredibly long songs that tell an entire story. Love vs. Money’s three-track stretch ranging from Take U Home 2 My Mamma to Love vs. Money 2 is one of the best twenty minutes stretches on any album, ever, and while Love King can’t match that epic effort, it does maintain Dream’s tradition. Sex Intelligent is exactly the kind of track I was praying to hear from Dream. Electronically drenched but still soulful, captivatingly restrained, burning, if Sex Intelligent doesn’t get you in the mood, you don’t have good sex. And then, literally without skipping a beat, the track folds into Sex Intelligent (Remix) , which subtly lifts the tempo and finds Dream lightening his vocals. (In fairness though, if I’m going to give Eminem a hard time for singing I have to point out Dream’s terrible, terrible rap on the Remix. Why? Why god, why?) Similarly, not only does Nikki Pt. 2 pick up where his first album’s Nikki left off, and does so gorgeously, but seamlessly blends into the pounding, regret filled Abyss. In an age where albums are often nothing more than a long list of downloadable hits, Dream continues to make his albums purposefully crafted collections of music.
They don’t call the man who wrote Rinanna’s ridiculously popular Umbrella the Radio Killa for nothing, so Love King will be measured not only for its craftsmanship, but for its potential to open wallets. While the lead single and title track Love King failed to catch fire on the charts it’s frankly hard to understand why; it’s got exactly the kind of catchy, charismatic, echoing sound that made Shawty and Rockin’ That S**t. While Dream’s counting on the lush but conceptually weak Make Up Bag to do what Love King didn’t, personally I would have gone with the feel good F.I.L.A., an unstoppably energetic track that combines the best traits of his bedroom burners and made-for-radio singles. Mark my words, if he ever officially releases it, F.I.L.A.’s a smash. There are a smattering of other single options on Love King, the heavily prince-influenced Yamaha, the juvenille Florida University and the painful, David Guetta knockoff Panties to the Side, the last two of which find him inexplicably dumbing himself down, but the truth is this album may just not have the same commercial potential as his past albums.
How much you choose to count Love King’s absence of a smash-single against Dream is up to you. Me? I don’t particular care as long as I get tracks like the hypnotizing ballads February Love and Take Care of Me. I’ll even give Dream points for completely defying expectations with a completely a cappella Sorry. No one saw that track coming. No one. So where does that leave us? I’ve learned my lesson. With a handful of weak offerings this doesn't feel like the masterpiece Love vs. Money was, but check back with me in six months. We’ll either have a classic on our hands, or merely a very good album. In the mean time, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m gonna go grab the wifey and up our sex intelligence. Thanks Dream.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 06/28/10
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