IV Play is the appropriately named fourth studio album by The-Dream, one of hip-hop’s more prevalent and established singers. Staying true to form, Dream is responsible for the production most of the tracks. He stamps each song with various techno effects and manipulates the layers of instrumentals in a way that gives the album a futuristic feel from beginning to end. This, in conjunction with The-Dream’s vocal effects, sets IV Play apart from other R & B albums.
Dream starts the album gunning at full speed with big features on the songs. Names like Jay-Z, Kelly Roland and Fabulous attract attention and add star power to The-Dream’s efforts. Exceptions of the best include the solid bars from Pusha T on ‘P*ssy’ and a seductive Beyonce on ‘Turnt’. The best part about these features is the fact that none of them overshadow Dream’s vocals. They help rather than mask talent. Most of the guests appear in the first of the half of the album and gives IV Play an unbalanced look from the surface.
Despite this, it is hard to ignore the solo work by the The-Dream as he sings about all aspects of love. ‘Loving You/Crazy’ has fast paced rhythm that is reminiscent of Usher’s best dance hits. ‘New Orleans’ features The-Dream at his most lyrically creative. He reassures the ladies about his non-superficial love in ‘Self -Conscious’. He isn’t afraid to be honest about his more carnal intentions. ‘IV Play’ is a song about The-Dream’s desire to skip the fooling around and go straight to sex. ‘P*ssy’, mentioned above, is as up front about sex as the title suggests.
These songs are merely examples of the variety of subject matters and tone that IV Play has to offer. Personal favorites of mine are ‘Where Have You Been’ (a heartfelt lament to an absent lover) and ‘Too Early’ (a song that channels old school Rhythm and Blues with an emphasis on Blues). There is something for most listeners here and that is what makes this album impressive. The-Dream manages to hit a number of themes all while staying true to his style. A good number of these songs could be hits on the radio and in the club which is a testament to Dream’s production skills.
The album can come across as unbalanced and all over the place at first listen. But if you are fan of The-Dream or progressive R&B in general, IV Play is absolutely for you.