Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"The-Dream is everywhere"

The best part of the current New Yorker, besides the beautiful cover and the articles I wish I could write, is the fact that the main essay in the back section is on my favorite, The-Dream. He has a new album out this spring, nipping on the heels of "Love/Hate," which you may recall dominated my sonic life for most of 2008. Sasha Frere-Jones is my favorite music writer -- he can capture its beauty and complexity in a way that always leaves me fumbling. His genius, though, is in the fact that he shares some of my tastes, which is how I can vouch for his brilliance.

Anyways, the new Dream album, "Love vs. Money," is great. He and his collaborator, Tricky Stewart, have not strayed far from the successful formula of their last venture, and they are still playing in the same universe of "ella"s and "eh"s and "Aye!"s. This time around, though, Dream is more ambitious about his skills and his place in the current R&B firmament. His singing has improved, with more traditional vocal flecks and R&B stylings. He offers a tribute to R. Kelly, then slyly supplants him in the final line of the song. Besides the swagger and good humor that characterized the last album, he attempts to lay the groundwork for the larger theme of the title, love vs. money. His songs about money -- "if she wanna make love on the edge of the world, I'll buy it" -- are knowing and briefly convincing. The last 90 seconds of "Fancy," for example, capture the intoxication and confidence and romance of wealth in a way that is genuinely exciting. It makes you want to live in that song.

Since the last album grew on me over such a long period of time, I'm trying to keep my expectations low for this venture and just enjoy it as it comes. Several tracks hooked me immediately: "Take U Home 2 My Mama," "My Love" with Mariah, "Walkin on the Moon" with Kanye, the "Rockin That Thing" remix. I love this guy.

As usual, Sasha Frere-Jones got it exactly right in the magazine:
Hip-hop allowed R&B singers to become aggressive again, to make the language blunt, and to admit a little bit of selfishness into the nice-guy routine. Having run that particular program, R&B is now following [The-Dream and Tricky Stewart] to a more subtle and complex area, where aggression and tenderness are equally represented.

1 comment:

mona said...

I'd like to ask what the role of the hyphen is in "The-Dream" ...