The-Dream The-DreamLove King
A quick memory exercise—do you remember the review we published of Drake’s album just a few days ago? David Broc talked about the vagina as a consumer of music. And he rated the Canadian’s debut album as NW –“needs work.” I know, the thing with the score is nonsense, it’s arbitrary, blah, blah, blah. But if I don’t say this, I’m going to explode: my vagina would have given Drake a high seven. And this is considering that my vagina doesn’t respond to the characteristics of the market that Broc talks about where women choose and men—boyfriends or potential boyfriends—pay. My vagina doesn’t know anything about boyfriends, present or future; my vagina has sufficient buying power to pay for its own fanaticism for mellow urban, and it would suspect hidden homosexuality if somebody tried to bowl it over with Drake’s merchandising. In my opinion, vaginas that salivate for R&B stars are self-sufficient, or find a way to be (hasn’t the vagina been the gateway to self-sufficiency since time immemorial?). And, more importantly, surely guys –both hetero and homo– grow tense to the beat of Drake’s album? All of us, men and women alike, are eating up “Thank Me Later”, just like we’re going to eat up the album we’re talking about here, because all of us like a little tickling and caressing just as much as the next person. And just for information, anybody who wants to win my favour should work on one of those classic mixtapes that have also been around forever!
So let’s get down to business. We all knew that this was going to happen. Terius Youngdell Nash’s new album was going to overlap with Drake’s debut. Comparisons are odious, but inevitable. And in view of how the two artists have worked the market until now, we all thought that the scales would tip in favour of the Canadian, thanks to that bit of distinction, refinement, and pseudo-intellectualism that The-Dream suffers from at times. The eternal struggle between north and south, Canada vs. USA, high and low culture (in Spain, Zara sends clothes that don’t sell in the north to the south because they can be sold there, it’s a fact). But Drake has gone too far playing the victim of the star-system, slave to his sex appeal and servant to his sensitivity. That story doesn’t fly. On the other hand, Terius has taken care to be himself: that lovable down-home boy, the cosmic whopper, the sausage-flavoured Petit Filou, who uses his charisma to get into both your bed and music player. While Drake was crying over the failure of his affaire with Rihanna instead of pouting, sucking in those abs, and going out to get himself another girl, The-Dream managed to get it on just fine with Christina Milian from AM to PM. A palpable difference in attitudes in reality and in music.
With “Love King”, The-Dream sells you real love, the everyday kind, the kind that says “Damn, I love you a lot, but if my ex who hurt me really bad texts me, it messes with my head,” as on “ Nikki Pt. 2”. Or that “yes, I was out partying, and I was messing around with a little Lolita, but I came home to you, and this is something I can fix by stopping off at the Mac stand in Selfridges” (“Make Up Bag”). That’s how crude he is, and you end up buying it because the time comes when you realise that the idea of romantic love is a lie sold to us by Disney when we were little. Where’s the trick? In the packaging, like every product with hype. Mr. Nash’s productions have their own stamp: synthesisers of love, cotton-candy melodies, auto-tune outpourings, super-classic drums and boxes, and verse-bridge-chorus structures. Simple, to the point, and effective. You know it’s got nothing special, but it goes straight to your stomach (by way of the vagina, of course). At times, it borders on infantile, like with that obsession with spelling. Singing “L to the O / V to the E / K to the I / N to the G” makes you feel like a dumb cheerleader until the melody comes, with the chorus, and that dirty southern bit, and the sky turns pink and purple, filling the horizon with the outlines of palm trees, and everybody looks as if they’re falling in love like they’re 15 years old. The same thing happens with “ F.I.L.A.” And what is love without lust? For this occasion, we have “ Panties to the Side”. An explicit title for a video that, as far as we can see in the teaser, looks like it’s going to be just as torrid. A song that will be danced to until people get expelled in the next Fame series (I think it’s going to be called Fame Revolution, like Matrix… Go ahead and laugh).
The surprise, what doesn’t fit in, is the brilliant exception, “ Yamaha”, and it is so good that even Pitchfork had to chart it. A perfect patchwork of Prince, Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Foxy Brown’s “Get Me Home”. It’s an orgy of synthesisers served up in syncopated rhythm. R&B 2step to crown an album that, it must be said, loses steam over the course of its 12 songs (the Deluxe edition has 17, and if you have a high tolerance for glucose, you will be able to stand “ Veteran”, but you can skip the rest of the bonus tracks). When it’s all over, you feel a little dirty, but satisfied, and you know that it’s got no class, but you love it. Mónica Franco