Greek mathematician, Pythagoras, developed the equation to figuring out the missing length to one side of any right triangle and it is now used everywhere. Even though there are no similar proofs, I think that R&B artist, The-Dream, has crafted some sort of exacting equation to creating catchy songs through a melding of choruses, melodies and sexual innuendos. Typically, if an artist sets out to create an album that consists entirely of attempts at singles…things don’t go so well. But, by some miracle (or equation), with The-Dream’s debut album, Love Hate, he took a shot at putting his project in the aforementioned situation and struck gold, literally.
The album touches on everything that has already been said by every other R&B artist in history, but it does so in such a way that you’re convinced it’s all completely original material. He sings vulnerably about heartbreak as if it is just as familiar to him as pursuing a spoken-for woman. It is the moments of touching reality like the song, “Nikki”, that truly show all that The-Dream is capable of as a musician. Simply, airy beats provide the ideal amount of space for him to play with different melodic patterns and vocal ranges. One song can contain multiple instances where the flow and cadence are greatly altered, yet the beat remains the same, providing for one hell of an entertaining listen.
Songs swing from one to the next containing the same or very similar instrumentation and creating an overall seamless listening experience. The beats and vocals aren’t all that complex yet sound full enough to drown an entire colosseum in sound. This comes by way of layering both the vocals and sounds from the synth and keyboard. The layering can be seen as a metaphor for all the different levels that The-Dream finds himself on emotionally. Seemingly empathizing with every role: the club-player type, the person cheating on their significant other, and even the heartbroken.
This all encompassing view of romance fully explain the album’s varied pace and tone. This genre has undoubtedly gotten a lot darker in tone since the days of Prince and Michael Jackson. There’s an ever present feeling of uncertainty in The-Dream’s voice and words that stems from his uncertainty in relationships and how quickly things can change. It sounds as though he wants to shoot for real true romance but ends up stopping short out of fear of being hurt and rather, tries taking women from other men in order to fill the void in his heart. There is something interesting about an R&B artist who has a definite hesitation when it comes to moving down the path of love.
This mentality is perfectly audible on a song like, “Ditch That…”, which has The-Dream laying down all the reasons that women should be quick to drop their man and get with him the second they have a chance and eventually, he bluntly states that the girl is coming home with him for certain. The scratchy electronic synths work perfectly in this song to elaborate on the escalating club scenario. What is even more interesting is the way that The-Dream uses the beats in such a way that the hooks, while still catchy, come second to the bridges and verses. Whereas choruses, in their nature, are basically the same every time they appear in a song, every other aspect can be structured differently. The-Dream proves his versatility in songs like “Falsetto” where he goes from singing to melodically rapping in an Atlanta fashion. The entire album is The-Dream’s portfolio of how to twist the standards of a genre while sticking within the boundaries of his own equation to success. Though he has since from faded from the spotlights, he is still making music that at times, reaches that level he entered the game on back in 2007. No matter what direction his future goes, The-Dream can rest easy knowing he created one of the best R&B albums of our generation.