The-Dream has always been a sex-obsessed R&B genius, but now he's turned things up a notch. On his new album "IV Play," which drops this week, the singer-songwriter and producer has gone from marathon lovemaking sessions to skipping the foreplay altogether. The extra dose of risque talk and bawdy calls for sex are a reflection of where he’s at in his life, and where we’re at as a society. For the uninitiated, this is ratchet-infused R&B.
“I’d like to think it’s a very vibey, adult album,” says the man born Terius Nash. “I’ve been out, I’ve been in clubs so I know we’re in the ratchet era of things. I’m sure there’s been a lot of ratchetness on my album because of what’s been going through our culture, which is a good thing, by the way. The ‘ratchet’ word sounds like it’s negative, but it’s actually more free than most R&B songs could be, than pop could be. ‘I don’t give a f—' — that’s basically what it’s saying.”
If “IV Play” embraces more explicit come-ons — and a few more drug references — than we're used to, it still boasts the same sound we’d expect from the musical mastermind behind some of the most memorable songs in modern R&B. The-Dream has crafted megahits for the likes of Beyonce ("Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"), Rihanna ("Umbrella") and Justin Bieber ("Baby"), and racked up multiple Grammy Awards, so it’s no surprise that industry heavyweights like Jay-Z, Beyonce, Pusha T and 2 Chainz appear on “IV Play,” which rounds out a handful of edgier tracks with sweet serenades and dark, introspective numbers.
The wave of ratchet hip-hop may not be the most surprising influence on "IV Play," though. You might also hear some classical music making its way into the compositions. The-Dream says it's his favorite genre.
“When those brass horns come in, there’s drama tied to that. When the flutes come in, there’s some type of majestic feeling that comes over you,” he says of his favorite genre. “You’re just listening. There’s no judgment. It’s not ‘Yeah, well he sucks, so I’m not listening to whatever his record is or whether he did a magical thing or not or whether that song makes sense.’”
The-Dream says American culture pays more attention to fashion choices and rumors than the most important factor concerning an artist — the music.
“All those genius [composers] were probably kind of crazy themselves, but what we took from them most was that their music was outstanding and they were great at it,” he says. “Period.”
Love vs. Money
In addition to finishing up his fifth album and preparing for the Lights Out Tour with Kelly Rowland, The-Dream is busy collaborating with Kanye West, Beyonce and Jay-Z. He remains tight-lipped about what those forthcoming collaborations entail.
“I’ve probably done the least on Kanye’s, because he’s like a machine like I am and just timing-wise, but I can say I’ve definitely done a lot of work with Bey and Jay,” he says."It’s definitely multiple songs."
The-Dream says he is also making his foray into film by scoring two movies and producing what he says is “a ‘Boyz n the Hood’-type” flick.”
“My point is not just to do film scoring — it’s to make films, period,” he says. “So I’m on my Ice Cube sh-t right now.”