The-Dream doesn't like to do things the easy way.
Sure, he could write himself some hits. After all, he co-wrote "Single Ladies" for Beyoncé and "Umbrella" for Rihanna, so chart-topping for The-Dream is definitely a reality.
However, in his own music, The-Dream wants to keep his edge, regardless of what that means for sales and radio play. His latest album, "IV Play" (Def Jam), is no different.
He swears his way through much of the album, to the point that we can't even discuss his collaboration with Big Sean and Pusha T in a family newspaper. On "New Orleans," nearly every other word out of his mouth is a derogatory term for a woman. On "Equestrian," he graphically compares sex to horseback riding.
But The-Dream has learned to make many of these songs so irresistible that the vulgarities fall by the wayside. Despite the bluntness of "Michael" -- "This ain't a love song, I just want to . . ." -- his Michael Jackson-like delivery actually becomes sweet. There's plenty of swearing in the lush R&B ballad "Where Have You Been," but Kelly Rowland helps bring out his vulnerability.
Beyoncé and 2 Chainz help make the sultry "Turnt" into the album's catchiest track, even though it doesn't really compromise much of The-Dream's straightforward sexy talk vision.
With "IV Play," The-Dream shows his mastery of using radio-friendly sounds to carry not-so-radio-friendly sentiments. It's clever, but it does make you wonder how great he'll be when he gets past the foreplay to the main event.
BOTTOM LINE State-of-the-art R&B with hip-hop swagger (and swearing)