The-Dream’s fourth solo album is out today, May 28, 2013. IV Play hits the stores with ambitious goals to fulfill, but so far it has only received negative reviews, and the bare truth is that despite the songwriter/producer’s efforts of crafting an amazing and chart smashing record, this album does not reach the high expectations of the fans.
The Atlanta based producer who still likes to be called Radio Killa is pushing his own creative limits way too far in order to please a larger audience. However, the outcome is less pleasant and less appealing than it should be. The-Dream gathered some important names to feature guest on his record, and this should have elevated his work to friendlier pinnacles. He included guest shots from Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Kelly Rowland, so IV Play also marks a significant change for The-Dream. On this album, he returns to the quintessential pop, putting a few miles between this new effort and the R&B renaissance that he helped spur with the release of his previous albums.
The album opens with Jay-Z feature “High Art” launching a factious verbal squabbling, which feels rather like a desperate stretch. The title track is less impressive, even for those who, in their tempestuous youth, love their bedroom-intense. It’s a song about intercourse that doesn’t possess any small clue about lovemaking; it’s a song that knows no romanticism. “I can give a f**k about the foreplay, I want it now/ I’m talkin’ straight sex, stop f**king around,” he spits with furious and unsatisfied desires in his voice. “Turnt” is highly sensual and features samples from Beyoncé and 2 Chainz. Although this track recalls the frisky and energetic rhythms Bey’s performances had before pregnancy, Dream somehow stands upfront. His wordplay is central and vital for this track, the main source of grit that keeps the whole song from falling down into pieces.
Furthermore, if the beginning was rough and dirty, the other songs transform, reinvent themselves and at some points, even become softer. “Equestrian” turns over and Dream sounds tireless. On the misogynistic “P***y”, one of his most vulgar tracks ever created, he sounds fresh and naughty. Kelly Rowland duet “Where Have You Been”, “Too Early” and “New Orleans” are mellower and even reflective on how complicated love can be. He uses the b-word probably too much, as at a certain point it becomes offensive, but this is exactly how The-Dream wants to be. Spitting his wordplays otherwise would have denied him as the real R&B auteur that he is.
Unfortunately, IV Play has all the signs that The-Dream’s goal is to prove himself to the charts on his own manner, which makes him look desperate. The album is not extraordinary and it most certainly does not fit with its producer’s talent. It’s crystal clear that Dream has plenty of things to say, but he seems incapable to do it on his solo works. The new album’s inconsistencies and flaws confirm that The-Dream is great only behind the scenes, creating mega-hits for the likes of Bey, Rihanna, Bieber, Diddy and J-Lo.