The revered singer/songwriter previewed the album at Jungle City Studios in New York on Thursday evening, rolling through the tracks on his iPod and entertaining a brief Q&A following each session.
"IV Play" was first up, and despite what the title might imply, the lyrics actually make it clear that he's barely interested in foreplay at all when he has the option of getting right down to business. This "no frills" attitude weaves throughout the album with Dream explaining that "instead of dancing the line of being mainstream and young" he's "just accepted that there's mature audience" open to the rawness of his new music.
He even got Beyoncé to play along. Mrs. Carter, with her perfectly guarded image, opens up "Fire" in her most breathy tone, crooning about being a "good girl" for so long and finally being ready to light it up. It almost felt like overload, with her shout-out to hubby Jay-Z's D'USSE cognac, reference to Destiny's Child's classic "Say My Name," and that syrupy, screwed-up tone featured on her recent single "Bow Down/I Been On" being incorporated into the track.
During the session Dream explained that his work with other artists caused a major delay in crafting his own album, stretching the recording process out about two and a half years. In that time, multiple songs have been added and subtracted from the track list, but other notable features include Kelly Rowland on the standout breakup tune "Where Have You Been?" and Jay-Z on "High Art."
Unfortunately, Dream didn't spin that Hov verse, saying that it wasn't accessible on his iPod, but with a refrain of "make love to my girls/ Get high with my n----s" and what he calls a "perfect title for a weed" song, we can't wait to hear what youthful spin Jay will try to put on this one. Highlights included "Too Early in the Morning," a deep bluesy number that Dream admitted he tried to get a B.B. King feature on, but it didn't work out because of conflicting schedules.
While Dream bopped along enthusiastically, even playing along to an invisible piano during some tracks, a few other things seemed to capture the attention of listeners.
As the Village Voice points out, during another listening session, Dream was bombarded with questions about whether he was taking shots at the Weeknd on certain tracks, or maybe even referring to his ex-wife on others, which did not go over too well, until an inebriated Timbaland stepped in to save the day.
Either way, the album certainly seemed to make an impression. IV Play is currently set for a May 28 release.