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Review: The-Dream - 'Terius Nash: 1977'

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Review: The-Dream - 'Terius Nash: 1977'
Back in August 2011, when the R&B singer-producer known as The-Dream was having difficulties with the label he was signed to, he decided to bypass Def Jam Recordings completely and release his fourth studio album, 1977, for free on the Internet via his own imprint, Radio Killa Records. But since doing so may have violated his contract, he put the music out not under his stage name, but under his real one, Terius Nash. Fast forward to well over a year later and apparently Dream and Def Jam have patched up their differences. They're on such good terms in fact, that the two sides have agreed to commercially re-release 1977 under Dream's stage name and with two new songs added. The revamped album, now called Terius Nash: 1977 and due for release Dec. 18, 2012, is a bitter, hypnotic break-up album that still sounds as fresh and relevant as it did upon its initial release 16 months ago.

Conflicted, Painful

Back when The-Dream was originally recording 1977 in mid-2011, he had been spending as much time in the headlines for his personal life as his music endeavors. He'd began dating actress-singer Christina Milian in early 2009 and the two got married in September of that year. Only three months later however, they separated despite the fact that she was pregnant with the former couple's first child. Although their daughter Violet was born in February 2010, the divorce between the parents became official in October 2011. All that real-life relationship drama serves as the prime focus of both the original and revamped versions of 1977. Although he doesn't name names or give specifics, it's obvious what personal situations he's referencing on songs like the album opener, "Wake Me When It's Over," a tune where he compares living in a bad relationship to some kind of nightmare. Overly a melancholy synthesized beat, he sings some seriously conflicted, even painful lyrics: "I hate it when you call, I love to watch you leave, I hate the way you talk to me, I love you in those jeans, You're so disrespectful, but damn I love your style," he sings. "What have you been drinking? What have I been doing? Where I was last night? Do you mean who I been screwing? On the Internet I look like The Devil, but you're wearing the red dress, holding a shovel."

Hard Feelings

For those who have already or already own the 2011 version of 1977, thew new version of its differs in multiple ways, some big and some small. The title and cover art are different and the new versions has two additional songs: "Tender Tendencies" and "AK47." But one song from the original, a remake of the 1981 Deniece Williams song "Silly" is not included on the new version, most likely because it doesn't feature The-Dream on vocals at all; it's a solo track by his protege, female singer Casha. The two new songs fit in perfectly with the album's break-up theme, particularly the bitterly profane "AK47," on which he compares his ex to a murderous weapon. Although this just might be the best break-up album to come along since Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, Def Jam have made a strategic misstep by releasing it during the holiday season. It's dark overtones can be hard to deal with during what's generally considered one of the most joyous times of the year. It may have been a better decision to release it around Valentine's Day, when the subject of break-ups is more on peoples' minds and in their hearts. That said, even with all the bad vibes and excessive profanity and hard feelings, 1977 (it gets its title from The-Dream's year of birth) is still one of the better releases of both 2012 and 2011.
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