Crown Jewels, crowded trophy cases, and a sold out crowd funded career firmly in his golden grasp, The-Dream is one of the most uniquely brilliant thinkers to ever enter, and tame, the entertainment industry. And he did it without being tainted or downgraded; without shamelessly recycling the same old era ashes rehashed by seemingly everyone else. His mindset crafts a creativity which caters to the sapio-sexual, wavy listeners who crave an at times ingenious, even a bit geeky, sexually cerebral sex symbol’s sounds to make love to. His art is smart and lustful, like a high IQ and high libido hella high on weed smoke in GQ, still for the streets though.
Written by ToneSwep
Styling & Images by: Contra-Paris
Had The-Dream not chosen music as a life path, the 5-Time Grammy winner possesses the abstract intellect to profess to grad students in university seats, to pilot a spacecraft beyond this world; stir spirits into songs at once a bartender’s blend of sainthood and hood sin. He’s a good man, a bad boy, an amazing father, loving husband, forever grateful grandson – and one of the greatest love-story tellers this century has experienced. While they’re shaking a$$ for selfies, homie shook R&B up and got wealthy, yet and still, he remains a visionary with a soul somewhat divisive, which his global fan-base enjoys and strip-clubbin’ following can’t t-work without. From the thank goodness of “Black” to the moody surrealism of “IV Play” and “Royalty”, he now finds his sublime coordination with this latest work, the Crown EP.
As songwriter’s go, The-Dream is a hit-penner unparalleled and without peer. Owning a lion’s share of Billboard’s coveted Top Ten list for much of the past decade, he is responsible for Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)”, Rihanna’s “Umbrella”, and Justin Bieber’s “Baby”, to name a few #1’s. Dream has also had a hand in the musical magic and stage stardom of Usher, Mariah Carey, Puffy, Brandy, Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige and many other entertainers seeking what is known in industry circles as the “Dream Sound”, in explanation, a hit song so massive it creates audio-visual momentum for the album itself and marketing momentum for the artist. In short, The-Dream’s ideas become anthems. His moods become moments. And his insightful outlook has become the voice of a generation sung by the world’s most worshiped icons.
Dream is DOPE, a stylish statue bringing big business into boss-only buildings like Def Jam and Capitol Records. But this now impressive edifice, born Terius Nash in Atlanta – was constructed on the brick-fortified backbone of his grandfather, who literally helped build the city as a local-48 cement mason, and who’s early teachings encouraged Dream to work hard and be smart. This would prove the resolute foundation to one of the most illustrious careers in Grammy history. He writes and sings mostly about love and relationships, some for now and others forever, because Dream’s life experiences entail talks of his marriages – now on his third – and his children – daughters Violet and Navy, sons London and Christian – and music, with his latest soul-child arriving in the form of the critically acclaimed fan favorite “Crown” EP. An impassioned offering of six cohesive tracks, The-Dream delivers “Cedes Benz”, “Throw It Back”, “Fruition”, “All I Need”, “Prime”, and “That’s My Sh!t” with A-Town homeboy T.I. at equal points classic and advanced, reflective and forward-thinking. The guy specializes in togetherness, and in making said togetherness feel timeless, and in making timeless somehow seem both fleeting and forever, finite and infinitive. And in making us play it back to re-experience it all for the first time, again and again, like an orgasmic highlight reel with instant replay over trap beats.
Here, in his exclusive interview with editor ToneSwep, The-Dream dishes on the comparison and contrast between his “Crown” and “Jewel” EP’s, explains why the digital wave will soon lose it’s luster, and shares why he and his kids feel they can impose their will on almost anything.
(TS) Do you think people realize how you owned music in 2007? This century’s biggest song, Rihanna’s “Umbrella”, was released in the spring and your debut album “Love Hate” dropped that winter?
(The-Dream) I don’t know about owned. I definitely can say I helped change the culture a bit. I was free then. I was open and hungry and ready for the world to receive the love I had for music in the way I heard it! Well, I guess I did own it and it’s great to see it still found in records and songs today.
(TS) It seems today’s music listener wants this blend of Rap, Trap, Dance, and Melody. Is that your sound? Are music execs directing producers and writers to re-create the “Dream Sound” in an effort to make a hit? I mean, honestly, how many times have we heard “Lover’s Thing” or “Keep Dancin’ On Me” redone? And those weren’t even hits.
(The-Dream) Yes there has been a formula created for making a Dream record. I’ve heard personally from artists now about how they studied the anatomy of the Love Trilogy and recreated it for themselves, and also how music executives would put in calls asking for a record that fused the two worlds together seamlessly. Truthfully, I grew out of it for a while and didn’t know everyone would still be on it but it’s awesome to be responsible for so many records that aren’t even mine.
(TS) Atlanta, your city, continues its legacy as an urban music incubator. But not with female R&B artists, where TLC, Ciara, Monica, Xscape, Keri Hilson and so many others had their claims to fame. Why hasn’t a breakout female artist emerged from Atlanta in recent years?
(The-Dream) Atlanta is a different place from when I was a kid. My grandfather helped build this city brick for brick as a cement mason – Local 148. The love for it was just starting to grow. We embraced our own through good and bad but now I think it’s a hustler’s city, and since women don’t really hustle in that same way, it’s hard to get off. Most of the records that are introduced now are more hustle than music or artistry.
(TS) How is the Crown EP a maturation from previous projects? You’re all about evolving, growth. How does this project best showcase your growth as a songwriter and producer?
(The-Dream) I think I’m wading out all of the clutter and with that said it’s hard to say or sing or write to my fullest potential until I’m allowed a forum by those who support my style of music. So I may evolve in my mind 20 years out but on an album I try not to over do it. We are almost back to the time where life was about how you heard and saw it, not just about what you see. People are starting to use their own lives as the backdrop which means all the talking about what we have or got in a vanity way will soon be gone. That world will end soon.
(TS) How is the upcoming Jewel EP an extension of the Crown EP? That said, how is it so distinct from its prelude-EP that it commanded the option of becoming its own full length project?
(The-Dream) Jewel is the finished thought of how I feel, not just the first thing I say, but the after thoughts! It’s like when you argue with someone you love and you say something you don’t mean. If you give it an hour or a day depending, your true love will overkill the frustration and your mind and heart will say what you really mean.
(TS) A full length album called “Morphine” is rumored to be in the works. What can you share with us about that project?
(The-Dream) Morphine is mines. It belongs to Terius, not The-Dream. It’s my heart with no respect to the current! It’s my “you’re welcome”! Morphine is my drug only to be used by me – I’m prescribing it to myself. Everyone has something they get a high from and something that let’s them become numb to the B-S of everyday life. Morphine is what we all are on! It’s a studio CD that will be accompanied by a book of pictures, which are all shot by me, as an escape from this narrow place I muse from!
(TS) What has been your proudest musical moment to date?
(The-Dream) I’ll say my proudest musical moment is winning the BET Best New Artist Award (2008).
(TS) You are one of the few men who has worked closely and extensively with both Beyoncé and Rihanna, and you know them both personally. As personalities go, what is a major similarity between the two? As professionals, what is a major difference?
(The-Dream) Similarity is a hunger to prove you otherwise. Biggest difference is one prefers paper and one prefers blunts (Laughs!).
(TS) We could talk homes, cars, clothes and jewelry with you all day. But share with us a passion away from music that you pursue. How is the endeavor progressing?
(The-Dream) My passion away from music is how a mind works and also my thing now is trying to narrow down why I think the world as we know it will end in less than 30 years, at least this digital part of it, and will have to be redone with the idea that nothing can be left behind. Somehow we have to figure out how to take everything with us, meaning the people who aren’t plugged in but who may have a better respect for love and life. Because as we know the digital frontier has brought us closer together but further apart, and love and life can’t be fixed through a laptop!
(TS) What would be The-Dream’s biggest nightmare?
(The-Dream) To not know what love feels like.
(TS) Dream, you grew in the hoods on Atlanta’s west side. That’s a tough place. Yet your grandfather was able to raise you with a sense of having things; with the work ethic and drive to make a way for yourself. What elements of him do you most see exemplified by your kids?
(The-Dream) My kids impose their will on things that aren’t necessarily theirs to have, same as I did. It’s not just talent, it’s a belief that only I can understand!