Royalty: “People of royal blood or status”.
To those of us on the outside looking in, it seems as though Mr. Nash’s thoughts have been increasingly worldly as of late. Gaining notoriety in the early 2000’s for his innovative songwriting, it’s safe to say The-Dream has firmly left his mark on music and has his sights set on tagging up much more. Alongside a bevy of recent announcements (including his departure from Def Jam, the new ‘design and culture’ label Contra Paris with longtime collaborator Tricky Stewart, and a new marriage), The-Dream has released a surprise project titled Royalty: The Prequel. The 7-track EP, released for free download via the Contra Paris website, is symbolic of an exercise in expansion for The-Dream, and another solid project to add to his discography.
The-Dream’s latest offering is difficult to peg down with one simple sentence or two. Although Royalty is a step away from The-Dream’s more radio-friendly side, the witty wordplay and replay ability remain intact and laced throughout. His trademark polish isn’t at full sail, but the amount that exists provides a great balance to the moderate level of experimentation and expansion that are present. And while he doesn’t dive head first into the new approach, that element of metaphor and duality within the context of new subject matter is sprinkled throughout the project. All that being said, the bottom line is that Nash knows how to compose a solid body of work, and Royalty is no different in that regard.
Royalty truly excels at the moments where The-Dream executes one thing; songwriting into uncharted territory. Nash’s attempts to delve into his new approaches to new subject matter are a testament of what we can hope to receive from The-Dream’s new direction. The best example of this is ‘Culture’, a soft and brooding track that describes a night out on the town in Paris, making note of a couple experiencing new things alongside one another. Lyrics like “intimidated by the French menu” create a stark imagery in the listener’s mind, while “want to show you everything eyes can see/take in this world with me” express the entire message and feel of what The-Dream seems to be going for (as does the video for the track).
Nash also finds this sweet spot on ‘Lake Michigan’ (“frozen in this cold idea of love”) and ‘Wedding Bells’ (“two down, and I’m working on this hat trick”). The impressive, song-defining one-liners present on each of these records are proof that this new approach can make for even more incredible moments within Nash’s music, and we hope to be able to experience them sooner rather than later.
While the shift to a new direction is definitely present on Royalty, The-Dream also manages to give us what he’s known for with records like ‘Duet’ and ‘Pimp C Lives’, both up-tempo records dedicated to lust and crafted in ways that make for great replay value in and out of the bedroom. The remainder of the project shows a couple chinks in the armor, as ‘Outkast’ has moments that disturb the flow of a project that is smooth sailing otherwise and ‘Cold’ sounds like one of Mack Wilds’ leftover records as Nash sings over a rendition of Mobb Deep’s ‘Shook Ones’.
Overall, Royalty shows The-Dream applying his way with words to his new-found way of thinking to very solid results. It’s a solid, short, sweet listen that coincides with what we can only hope is his brand moving forward. Finally off the leash, we are thoroughly excited to see The-Dream’s next step, as the world is at his feet.
+Indicative of The-Dream’s new brand and direction
+Applies songwriting talent to more worldly subject matter
+Strong sense of metaphors and duality within multiple songs; less straightforward than usual
+Builds anticipation for the next full-length project, as well as what is to come of Contra Paris
+ “Duet”, “Culture”, “Pimp C Lives”, “Lake Michigan”
–Dull at moments, possibly due to experimentation
–Worldly concepts and elements of duality could have been used more