Sometime between R. Kelly’s infamous trial and now, The-Dream took the baton from the R and built his own legacy as the go-to producer and elite R&B artist. He has produced the type of sex-oozing music that you aren’t embarrassed to play in front of your girlfriend or play in your car with the windows down. The-Dream, never short on ego, brings forth his latest album Love King. It’s everything you expect from the innovative frontrunner. It’s filled with confidence, cockiness, sex and feel-good cuts.
Like the previous two Dream albums, Love King‘s production value is top notch. The-Dream has mastered synths and the bass lines always seem to feel right. After one listen, it’s easy to see why he was behind the boards on smash hits like Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” The artist is a chameleon. His ability to adapt his voice, production and confidence to fit a track or topic is impressive. On “Yamaha” and “Nikki Part 2” he is able to channel Prince-esque instrumentation in a Pop-friendly way that artists like Van Hunt could not. Both tracks maintain radio appeal, and speak to R&B fans of yesterday and tomorrow at once. “Nikki Part 2” sees The-Dream’s vocals accompanied by a dope use of tempo and melody between the bridge, chorus and verses. His ability as a producer and songwriter to manipulate these elements is what makes him so acclaimed.
The-Dream has a precise understanding of making hit records. “Florida University” is a clever middle finger record that uses the SEC school’s initials as the chorus. “Abyss” would be a standout cut on anybody else’s record, and “February Love” is sure to be a ladies favorite, with good reason. The standout track on the record is easily “Take Care of Me.” From start to end it is as close to perfect as a track can be. The-Dream brings forth his most intimate songwriting to date and showcases a very underrated powerful voice. It may be the best track that the artist has ever written or sung. It’s easy to get caught up in it’s melody and it’s stripped down production is top class.
Love King does have its flaws. “Panties To The Side” is as corny and predictable as the title. These moments are where The-Dream blends in with his peers instead of standing out. “Sex Intelligent” isn’t as clever as The-Dream would have hoped, while questionable rapping plagues the remix. “Everything Black” is dumbed-down writing that very well could make waves on the radio but not due to impressive artistry. Throughout the Love King, The-Dream shines when he is singing in his falsetto,. The moments where he sings in his middle range are times where he loses the attention of his audience. He clearly doesn’t have the overwhelming range of an artist like Maxwell, and this forces him to play with voice manipulating studio tricks. He’s not “T-Paining,” but he also isn’t blowing as much as he should. It could easily be blamed on the type of music he’s making, regardless, The-Dream would have done himself a huge favor showcasing his voice’s range and power.
When The-Dream’s second LP, Love Vs. Money didn’t receive a Grammy nomination he confidently tweeted, “Isn’t it funny the best album of 2009 didn’t get a nomination for the second year straight.” He may have had a point, but he also reinforced the opinion that he has a Kanye West-like ego. His music oozes of confidence and with an album entitled Love King, it’s clear he believes it. The R&B star/super producer brings forth another very polished album. It’s clear that he is putting his stamp on the R&B scene, and with high hopes that the album outshines its predecessors, The-Dream is attempting to sit on the throne alone and for a brief on “Take Care of Me” he looks down on everyone proudly.