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The Dream Previews New Album in New York

It’s been a year since the Dream first previewed his album, IV Play MMXII, an event thrown together as if for the hell of it: at the time, no release date had been set. There was a song with Gucci Mane, another with Mary J. Blige, one called “Loving You.” Months went by with no public progress. In December, a second listening session showed a white board with six of the original nine songs gone.  He’d gone from the Dream to Terius Nash, warm winds to storm clouds. The project’s title hadn’t changed; everything else had.

Yesterday, noting the “final tracklist, but not the final sequence,” the Dream once again hit the space bar, this time on the top floor of New York’s Jungle City studios. A small crowd joined him, over two sessions maybe 30 people in all, including Timbaland.

Wearing a BBC hoodie and Jordans, a Louis Vuitton briefcase next to him, the Dream seemed friendly, quick to shake hands and small-talk, but still a bit unsettled: When the room would go quiet between songs, he’d scroll through his laptop screen and beatbox.

While he didn’t play it, the Dream mentioned that “Equestrian,” a song with Big Sean that’s been kicking around for a while, would also be on the album. At the end, he got up and shook more hands, a wide smile, seemingly relieved to put this out there.

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“IV Play”: Soft-spoken and polite in person, the Dream opens IV Play matter-of-factly.  It’s not demanding or abusive; he sings with ellipses, not exclamation points. If anything, he sounds delicate even when attempting rough: A British accent can make the dumbest words sound refined, and the Dream can always turn dishrags into flowers. Sonically, it sounds like Jodeci, “Splackavellie” and Roger Troutman in a Cadillac Eldorado, which is to say it sounds great.

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