It’s 12:45 a.m. and The-Dream has just forked down his last bit of calamari at an Upper Eastside red-lit favorite. He’s fed and friendly. But even with a happy belly, R&B’s love-and-lust obsessed virtuoso is still a bit on edge. The midnight munchies arrive just after the Grammy-award-winning songwriter made the king decision to call off his video shoot after a 3-hour+ setup that didn't meet his standards. But that level of quality control doesn't make Dream a narcissistic asshole. Really, in-between the f-bombs and braggadocio, Terius Nash is an undeniable and frighteningly unstoppable talent. And get this—he’s also pretty damn nice.
The 33-year-old responsible for more than a handful of your favorite stuck-on songs (seven of them can be found on Beyonce’s 4) just wants a bit of recognition. Unlike an online news story he shows me on his Blackberry that dismissed him as an insubstantial rapper or his theory that VIBE wouldn’t have graced him with the August 2009 cover sans his topless ex-wife posed in front of him. So yeah, Dream has a reason to feel fairly perturbed, which is why he makes up for lost praise by showering it on himself. Why wait for the public to recognize what he already knows?
Nights before his free album 1977 drops, the slimmed down bachelor made space in the backseat of his Rolls Royce to speak candidly about his broken past and what should be a bright-ass year.—Tracy Garraud
Around this time last year, you deleted your Twitter account after a statement you made about Ciara was taken out of context. What made you want to reenter the hashtag world?
I have a better understanding of social things now. I think from being in 2007 this very private person and going from A to Z so quickly, I had to stop myself from telling people things that were so real that they couldn’t even comprehend. So now I see it in a way where it falls on your ear and you get to go home and think about it versus saying it so say straight and honest that you’re just so shocked and probably angry that I said it that you’re not even listening to what the f--k I said. Dream just spoke the truth and it’ll be two people who said that and then the other thousand will be like that ni--a’s crazy. So now the positive percentage of that is up because I figured out how to explain it in a certain way that will just kill the negativity.
Ah, like that response you recently tweeted to counter accusations about swaggerjacking Hov and Kanye’s Watch The Throne album.
[Laughs]. Right. That was like ‘What are you talking about, they’re my ni--as.’ Number one you can’t copy something that’s original. Lorenzo Ghiberti did that sculpture in the 1400s. I’m sorry it’s the same color, but all of us are in a clique. It’s like your friends, yall are probably going to have the same likings. And it kinda helped actually because anyone who didn’t know how the Watch The Throne cover looked or whoever didn’t see my 1977 cover can see it now. I was like genius, retweet that! If it was a commercial release it probably wouldn’t have been that cover, but it’s not a thought if it’s a cover for a small thing I’m doing. I saw that bronze sculpture maybe ten years ago and said I;m going to use that for something I just don’t know what. It also enlightens people to who Lorenzo is in case they didn’t know. But of course there’s going to be hate.
Right. Yeah for someone who has such a strong niche of stans, it seems like you get a lot of hate when the internet gets a hold of you.
Some people aren’t smart enough to understand the intellectual part of a being. That’s why as a 30-year-old you don’t have a conversation with a 15-year-old. I don’t dine with 15-year-olds and talk about life. Our experiences are completely different. So now I don’t take it personally. It’s just sad because these are the times where we celebrate failure when it used to be about living vicariously through artists and celebrating success. There’s certain things you can’t say about me. We could call Christina [Milian] right now and she would never say that I’m not there for anything. So I have to just know myself in this space and not need anyone else to know it. The people around me know who they’re dealing with and that’s all that really f--king counts. You can’t count, you’re in an apartment somewhere writing on a blog. How do you count? You only count if I let you count.
Before we started this interview you pointed out a news story about Beyonce’s NYC concert series where you weren’t given rightful credit for penning the majority of her album and was even labeled as a rapper instead of a singer. Would you rather be recognized as a god of songwriter and have people forget you as an artist or would you rather be a god of an artist and have people downplay your songwriting?
I’d rather them know what I do best.
At this time, being a songwriter. I think what makes me great as a songwriter is there’s still an artist behind it. It’s one thing to just be a writer with one style or a niche, but if you can go into a variety of lanes, that’s a f--king artist. So not only that, but when people don’t know what I do, it’s a calculation of not understanding music. To take away from me, you’re just taking away from music.
Let’s talk about Love King, which was supposed to be your final album, but ended up being your least memorable. Why do you think that is?