The-Dream’s refusal to fully commit to any modern-R&B archetype—he’s too smart to convincingly play the horndog, yet too lascivious to be the softy lover-man—is what make his records so intoxicating but also difficult to market to the pop masses, who favor reductive personas and three-minute singles. “There’s no one making more interesting records,” notes Voice contributor Mikael Wood. “But I don’t know if ‘interesting’ is what people are after. His records take so long to unpack; he attracts a super-devoted audience that wants to put in the time.”
Love King is undoubtably a strong album—The-Dream’s best shot at connecting with a bigger audience. And maybe he’s coming around to the idea that he’ll never be as huge as he is in his own mind. “I’ll become something bigger than what I’ve been,” he says with near restraint. “It’s not about the albums sales or anything like that. People will know me more.”
As a waiter clears off the table, The-Dream gets a ping from his accountant. He’s just gotten the go-ahead to purchase some property in Buckhead, an upscale neighborhood in uptown Atlanta. “Been looking for a cigar bar,” he says. “Got my own little thing. I’m planning on getting old quickly.” And retiring, no doubt, to a place where everybody knows his name.