The-Dream And Tricky Stewart Talk ‘Crown Jewel’ Project, Beyonce and More
There are artists who use The-Dream and Tricky Stewart sound to get there, though. Whether they had you come in and write & produce for them. Or, they blatantly jacked your sound.
Tricky: Not to be arrogant or anything, but sometimes, the hardest thing for us to do is just write. We don’t write very good records for average people. You need to be extraordinary as an artist.
The-Dream: You have to be a great artist.
I think “That’s My Shit” is a prime example of that, because if you guys would’ve given it to someone else, it wouldn’t have had the same effect. It’s not the most intricate hook, but it’s undeniably The-Dream and Tricky, and it’s perfect.
Tricky: It’s a feeling. As soon as the beat kicks in, it’s like the bat signal.
How hard is the process of figuring out what to keep for yourselves and what to give away?
The-Dream: It’s never been hard. It’s more so Tricky talking me into keeping them. I exercise that people don’t think a mile a minute like I do, and that their acceptance and pre-judgment of certain things doesn’t allow them to buy in. The same way the culture took me in and held me, over here in a certain degree. It’s my idea to say, ‘I may as well give a certain record like “Love Me Back,” which is on Jewel to Beyonce. ‘Cause it would be more acceptable for her to do it. Not that I couldn’t do it, not that I couldn’t produce it, not that I couldn’t sing it the best. None of those, it becomes about the consumer.
So, you’re really conscious of all those factors. You even think about if your fans will accept a certain type of record from you?
The-Dream: Of course. I always have to step outside of myself and ask what works for my audience, what works for my messaging — and for a lot of things. This even requires people like yourself to be open minded because even though you’re like, ‘Oh I get it, I fuck with music.’ It’s easier said than done. When you say, ‘My pre-determined idea of The-Dream is this.’ Well, My pre-determined The-Dream is he can draw anything. And that’s what I’m really trying to get to the people. I want them to think just ‘The-Dream is an artist. I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do.’ That was the great thing about Missy. She was able to do all of that. Whatever she wanted to do. She rapped when she felt like it. She can sang when she felt like it.
Tricky: Absolutely. It’s a good time for our music, for what we do. You know. We should be able to travel the world comfortable in our musical skin. Our Atlanta, Chicago sound, should take us everywhere we wanna go.
The-Dream: It’s taken everyone else everywhere [Laughs].
At this point, how frustrating is it to still get boxed in musically.
The-Dream: Well it’s super annoying, but what am I gonna do about it? It’s just the climate of where we are. But I’m trying to break that stigma, not even for myself, like it’s not really about me. I’m not gonna go somewhere and not be able to make a living, a very good living, it’s not about that part. It’s more so about you may not get the best records simply because if I don’t have a Rihanna to sing “Umbrella”… how many records do think I have like “Umbrella?” I have tons of them. But that means you’ll never hear them if I don’t sing them. And, I demo every record we do for other artists.
Every single one?
The-Dream: Every single one. So, with that being said, let’s say you have a hundred records in the vein of the pop/hip-hop world like “Umbrella,” and you’d never get to hear them. You’re not just fucking with me, you’re fucking with yourself. I don’t know what that moment creates in my own life. You’re not allowing me to be the vessel in the mirror of life that God intended for it to be.
You’re basically blocking that out, and saying, but I’m only going to hear this club part right here. I don’t want to hear the part where The-Dream is spending time with his wife, or his girlfriend, or his daughter, or his date, at Six Flags, in the car, on a trip going up to the mountains, skiing.
I guess that’s what we’re really missing in mainstream R&B: an album that’s just not all about partying and love. We still need melodic records about getting through your rough days at work, about how you’re going to pay the bills, etc.
The-Dream: That’s what R&BB used to be. When you went through something and that’s what it was about. Let’s write about what’s going on. [Sings Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”] No pun intended.
How often do you guys get in the studio with a new artist and there’s just no musical chemistry at all?
The-Dream: Every once in a while, but it’s not often. We tend to stick to the same people who are trying to be great [Laughs].
Here’s the perfect time to bring up the whispers about you guys doing new music with Beyoncé.
Tricky: I can’t speak on that too much. But let me just say she’s the greatest right here, right now. But at the same time I don’t know if people realize she belongs on the Mount Rushmore of the best of the best.
So you’re saying, as of now, Beyoncé deserves to be up there with Michael Jackson, with Prince and Stevie, if she did nothing else today.
The-Dream: Of course. She’s doing nothing but padding it now. It’s like she’s just stacking right now. And, this isn’t even a woman versus man situation. This is just a flat-out entertainer thing.