Love vs Money

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Between the December 2007 release of Love/Hate and March 2009 release of Love vs Money, the-Dream's dominance as a songwriter, producer, and solo artist had not faded. When the latter album was released, Mr. Nash's output was all over the radio, just as it was when the former came out. Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body" had been to the top of the Hot 100 amidst a string of smaller successes that included Jamie Foxx's "Just Like Me," merely a Top Ten R&B hit, and Usher's "Trading Places," which was too thematically and structurally off-center to be massive. The number one R&B single at the time, Foxx's "Blame It," was neither written nor produced by Nash, but it quoted him. "Rockin' That Sh**," this album's lead single, had just become his fourth consecutive solo Top Ten R&B single, and a duet with Mariah Carey, "My Love," was well on its way to becoming number five. He was in his own orbit.

Love vs Money, like Love/Hate, was made with producers Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Carlos "L.O.S. da Mystro" McKinney, and it continues Nash's never-ending song cycle about his life as a chest-puffing softy who will get "all up on you like a white tee on a thug" and "circle the stars and bring you one back." Sonically, there are only slight variations on what he and his collaborators had been serving up for over a couple years, with swishing and panning percussion accents, droning and buzzing synths, syrupy vocal interjections, and unexpected hook deployment from every angle. The song most directly connected to Love/Hate is "Sweat It Out," essentially a slow jam version of "Playin' in Her Hair," sung just as sweetly: "She just got her hair did but you know I can't stop this/I told you once we finish that I would get your shit fixed." The album is heavier on ballads and, with "Fancy" and "Right Side of My Brain," it stretches out, shifting from a melancholy six-minute beat tease (where an awed Dream loses all control to a mate with expensive taste) to an emotionally bruised stomp (a regretful kiss-off). Ultimately, Love vs Money is Love/Hate's equal, stuffed with hooks, ceaselessly absorptive productions, and clever and often funny wordplay -- "Now if they ask you can I sing like Usher, say no/But I can make you sing like Mariah, ooooooooh" being the most amusing of them all, though "I'm all up on you like a monster truck" runs a close second for switching up the R. Kelly woman-as-vehicle metaphor.

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