The-Dream – IV Play | Album Review


A complex character of sorts, The-Dream is an incredibly talented individual who once in a while makes a questionable creative decision. With that said, when he’s on his game he’s really on his game. Returning with his fourth studio album [if you disregard the free-turned-salable Terius Nash: 1977], the aptly titled IV Play is commercially the most anticipated of his long plays; thanks to his high-profile Beyonce collaborations, Watch The Throne input and Grammy win for “No Church In The Wild.”

Known for his cinematic track blends – best exampled on his debut album Love/Hate – as a producer, singer and rapper, Nash’s creative ear works wonders throughout the second half of his latest album. It’s the first half of IV Play that holds a few inconsistencies that might turn some listeners off before they get to the good stuff.

With seven features on the first seven songs, the second half of the album features just one guest. It’s understandable why The-Dream has loaded up on big names; appealing to a fickle market concerned only with Saturday night big name booty shakers. With a lack of demand for that authentic R&B sound Nash is obviously influenced by, his choice to play “the game” is one that has compromised the overall quality of the album.

Standing out as solid individual moments, the Gary Clark Jr. assisted “Too Early” is a slick take on when R&B-meets-blues, while the boisterous “Pussy” with Big Sean and Pusha T works well hearing the fellas exchange campfire stories about various female physical attributes. However, they’re just two tracks stuck in a selection of below average moments. The boring “High Art” [with Jay-Z] and “Turnt,” which hears The-Dream attempt to recreate a Mike Will Made It-esque joint with Beyonce and 2 Chainz – whose verse is the best thing about it – really should be better with the calibre of talent on deck.

The instrumental crossover displayed between tracks “Michael” – a song doped up on lustful desires with a nod towards Michael Jackson – and “Loving You/Crazy” leaves you applauding The-Dream for his track arrangements and creative prowess. While not the strongest vocalist on the scene, he always seems makes it work with by wearing his heart on his sleeve – even if he does sound a bit arrogant from time to time – and pulling the attention towards his production talents.

Like a modern day urban conductor, cuts like “Holy Love” have you asking yourself why The-Dream isn’t a household name. Evidently with a lot to prove, he has the bread and butter – and tracks such as “New Orleans” and “Self-Conscious,” complete with bearable auto-tune, are a perfect example of this. Putting his feelings on the line, the level at which he offers himself out with some strong backing tracks is the reason why he’s the industry go-to-guy.

Complete with Prince and Michael Jackson influences, IV Play features some stunning individual moments. As a flowing entity it falls short of what it could have been. [Cutting it down and offering it up as an EP might have been a good idea, but then again perhaps a tracklisting shift could have solved the problem also. Still a huge talent, if this is to be his bow out album – The-Dream claimed this would be his final project as a singer – then perhaps he should reconsider and try again taking influences from his debut.

The-Dream – IV Play
Label: Def Jam
Released: May 28, 2013
Buy: iTunes / /