It’s been over two years since singer-producer The-Dream released his critically acclaimed “Love Hate,” a volume of radio-friendly singles that fans of contemporary R&B could identity with. Following up to his highly successful studio debut, Dream releases the much-anticipated “Love vs. Money,” with an aim to provide his fans with more of the same, plus a little more.
The club-friendly “Rockin’ that Thang,” an ode to the speechlessness of lust, starts things off. Excellent production values ensure that this cut will be played at every good party for months to come. Next up are “Walkin’ on the Moon” and “My Love.” The former features a “Stronger”-like verse from Kanye West, while the latter flaunts Mariah Carey’s airy alto over The-Dream’s characteristic space age synth beats. Honestly, both of these tracks are good, but nothing new. A lot of “Love vs. Money” is this way. But a few dare to be different.
The album’s title track is a two-part series, documenting a painful heartbreak. In the first part, Dream blames himself for his misery: “Everything she wanted, I bought it/ Broke my neck so this girl didn’t go without it,/ and I can’t even hate homie, I am to blame,/ instead of loving you, I was making it rain.” The beat is reminiscent of Omarion’s “Icebox.” Part two is a revelation for Dream: “I shoulda known that money can’t match love,” he sings retrospectively. As the song builds, rock influences take over, and an edgy guitar growls over the frenetic hi-hat while strings serenade to give the song an epic feel. This is definitely worth a listen.
Another one of the best tracks here is the reflective “Fancy,” a subdued “The Love Below”-esque piano interlude over which he gently sings about a woman who wants the good things out of life. A French accordion, spanish guitar, string section highlight the lyrical content and vary things instrumentation wise. As the track heightens in intensity, Dream’s creative genius begins to show. The production values throughout are top-notch, featuring excellent work by Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Carlos “Los da Mystro” McKinney, as well as The-Dream.
“Love vs. Money,” if nothing else, solidifies The-Dream’s position as one of contemporary R&B’s hottest producers. His vocals are improving, but he still overuses filler words like “Ay” in his singing (think Rihanna and Chris Brown’s “Umbrella”). Tracks like “Mr. Yeah” and “Right Side of My Brain” suffer this fate, but this is an easily fixable criticism for the next go round. In the future, Dream will need to avoid such incessant repetition to stay fresh to keep listeners engaged. This, however, is but a minor criticism. The-Dream has definitely found a formula that works. It will be interesting to see how long he will stick with it.
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Posted on 10th Mar 09