The Dream vs. Jeremih

I wrote about free EPs from R&B singers Jeremih and the Dream. Below, Jeremih’s latest radio hit, “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” which does not appear on the EP.

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Major Label Debuts From SZA and August Alsina

I wrote about two major-label debut albums from R&B singers: SZA, who is on Top Dawg Entertainment (along with Kendrick Lamar), and August Alsina, who is on Def Jam. SZA is experimental but not always effective, Alsina takes fewer risks but does his thing very well. Alsina’s “You Deserve” below.

IV Play

The critic Greil Marcus wrote in 1975, “[t]hose who mean to seduce don’t announce their intentions through megaphones.” But clearly Marcus did not anticipate an artist like the Dream (also, apparently, Prince, R. Kelly, and Trey Songz, to name a few), who has frequently announced his intentions—to seduce, and more—through whatever megaphone is available, in songs like “Falsetto,” “Sweat It Out,” “Put It Down,” “Panties To The Side,” and “Fuck My Brains Out.” The Dream’s new album, with the punny title IV Play, works around similarly carnal themes. Songs like “Equestrian,” tap the old riding-a-horse-is-like-sex metaphor, and hooks are transparent in their desire: “I can give a fuck about the foreplay/ I want it now.” If anything, the Dream is wasting even less time on seduction as he gets older.

But the Dream (Terius Nash) isn’t as one-dimensional as he sounds—he’s actually sort of a musical schizophrenic, torn between the different parts of his musical personality. He’s best known for the songs he’s written and production he’s done for other, mostly female, artists: Rihanna, Ciara, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Cassie. These are often songs about love and empowerment, even from the titles—Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and “Run The World (Girls),” Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” Mariah Carey’s “More Than Just Friends,” Mary J.’s “Just Fine,” Cassie’s “Nobody But You.”

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Lenny Williams

This love-affirming ballad was a hit for Lenny Williams in the late 70s. It’s slow and fraught in the manner of Teddy Pendergrass or other post-funk singers of deep, soul-baring tunes. Part of my appreciation for this stems from the fact that Terius Nash, a.k.a. The Dream, supposedly once sang this over the phone to his interviewer while being interviewed for an article. Performed live by Williams below.

 

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