My girlfriend is always asking me why I like The-Dream (notice the hyphen, that is the official formatting). In an attempt to not sound like an old Apple Jack’s commercial (we just do!), I tried to rationalize his appeal to her. For one, he writes perfect hooks. In fact, she’s liked a lot of his songs before knowing he had written them (Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” LL Cool J’s “Baby,” and who doesn’t like Rihanna’s “Umbrella”?). Secondly, he makes great beats. Kanye deserves all the praise he’s received for his spaced out mood-fest 808’s and Heartbreak, but I think The-Dream’s Love/Hate deserves a lot of credit for its ambition as well. Finally, and this is perhaps the most important to me: he’s hilarious. Is it intentional? Is it not? Is it intentionally unintentional? So many hip hop and R&B songs can fall into the trap of indistinguishably boring cliche, but The-Dream’s often bizarre, WTF lyrics stick with you long after the first listen. This includes his relentless repetition of the syllable “ella,” even though it makes no sense outside of Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” just to remind you that yeah, he’s that guy. Oh, and he calls himself “radio killa” and “the R&B gorilla,” because that rhymes.
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