Label: Radio Killa, Def Jam
Part of the compelling drama of Terius Nash, the man who records as The-Dream, is that he reaches his highest highs when writing for others. “Umbrella” with Rihanna. “Single Ladies” for Beyoncé. Ciara's “Speechless.”
It's important that all of these artists are women. When Nash writes and records as The-Dream, sex and love become interchangeable in way that screams stereotypical dude. There's no distinction between a bared heart and a stiff dick. This can make his work laughably crass. This isn't disrespect, just a fact—try and listen to “Fuck My Brains Out” without smiling.
Love vs. Money is a different beast. The moments of crassness are there—the number of weaves killed during “Sweat It Out” rivals 2 Chainz's best work—but they're tempered by the glory of songs like “Rockin' That Shit,” still his greatest expression of the lifted feeling that love brings. That song, with its serious admission that there's nothing he can say—a sly twist on the chorus of “Shawty Is Da Shit!”—elevates the listener. The synths aspire to be horns just like the chorus of "ooohs" aspires to say everything by not saying anything.
And that's not all. The two-part title cut wallows in self-loathing and anger in a way that today's R&B should more readily acknowledge. Then, of course, there's his masterpiece “Fancy,” a cathedral of a song that damn near demands a professor of architecture to describe its multi-tracked ornamentation and colossal spires of voice.