It has been a while since the R&B genre has seen a talent as impressive as The-Dream. With intricate production and songwriting, Terius Nash comes off as a breath of fresh air in this post R. Kelly era. (Not disrespecting Kells, but he is obviously nowhere close to his zenith of the late 90s/Early 2000s) Not only has he been successful with his own music, but also as the writer for many other talented artists. So to follow up his first LP and outside ventures, The-Dream returns with the truly solid, but often predictable and safe Love vs. Money.
The album starts off strong out the gate with the first single “Rockin’ That Thang” leading the way. With its catchy lyrics and hypnotizing beat, The-Dream manages to capture one’s imagination through great imagery that often strikes a chord with the listener. He also manages to switch gears with the mid tempo Kanye West assisted “Walkin’ on the Moon” and a strong duet that serves as the second single “My Love” featuring Mariah Carey. But the crowning moment(s) of this album has to be the title track and its sequel. “Love vs. Money” and “Love vs. Money Pt. 2′ both take on the subject of one outweighing the other in a relationship, a brilliant concept that has not been done and is relatable to the point of views from which they are told. In addition, Love vs. Money has great transition between tracks, not the typical fading in or out that one might be accustomed to hearing. The production on here is not too bad as the Dream reconnects with his partner in crime Tricky Stewart for the majority of the album, which for the most part is impressive.
Not that this album has many downsides, because it doesn’t, but the ones that it does have are very distinguishable. For one, the adlibs that are used are not only outdated, but are over used and at times are downright annoying (“Ay!”). In addition, even though the production is great, it does not stray away from the typical sound that we are used to hearing from this artist. More specifically, even though the tracks “Put It Down” and “Sweat It Out” are decent songs, they essentially have the same chorus proving how the Dream has a hard time stepping out of his element. In relation, the song “Take You Home to My Mama” just sounds forced and contrived, not fitting the overall feel of the album.
Basically, Love vs. Money is a decent album, but it truly shows how comfortable The-Dream is with himself and success as an artist. By not straying away from the same formula that got him to where he is can be viewed as smart to some, but it also can be seen as fear or content. Every great artist has to take chances every now and then and The-Dream must decide if he just wants to be good or great. That is what separates the mediocre from the legends, which he has the ability to become if he decides. – Ryan Harrison
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