The-Dream

Crown

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Terius Nash announced in early 2014 that he and Def Jam had parted ways. Within only a few months, he returned as a Capitol artist with "Black," a proud, out-of-character single that namechecked Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Marvin Gaye. A full year later, Crown arrived as the first of two 2015 EPs, with Jewel planned for two months afterward. Just as his Def Jam-era album tracks often outshined the singles, Nash is in top form here when he forgets about hitmaking, drops his guard, and produces gems that are scenes as much as they are songs. "That's My Shit," featuring T.I., is an adequate bid for radio relevance, but the conjoined five-minute numbers "All I Need" and "Fruition" -- swirling, pleading drama chased with triumphant contentment that cleverly evokes Commodores' "Zoom" -- truly validate the-Dream as a mid-2010s solo artist.

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