A great R&B song contains these basic elements: wonderful vocals, a strong topic of emotional interest, solid production, and true to life lyrics. The-Dream obviously knows this formula well, since he follows it for his re-released free album 1977. The singer/producer enters a very personal zone as he informs listeners about his last tumultuous relationship through his music, but he also makes sure to get back to catchy singles with his industry buddies in tow.
“Wake Me When It’s Over” exemplifies The-Dream’s signature R&B sound, the melancholy production helping to set a dark mood as he addresses his breakup with former love Christina Milian. The deep emotional tug of war on Dream’s mind recounts the best and worst traits of his ex. This lead song serves as a strong introduction to Dream’s recollection of his troubled celebrity relationship, while “Used To Be” and “Long Gone” continue to express his feelings of love/hate towards his past lover.
Once listeners have had enough of The-Dream’s emotional baggage, the album switches into some fun R&B territory. “Ghetto” features the singer’s familiar formula with an addictive chorus, sex charged lyrics, and a dope rapper as a guest feature (Big Sean). Casha, Dream’s female protégé, makes two notable appearnces on the album; her coming out party is a welcome one over the songs “Rolex” and “Silly.”
The lead title track “1977 (Miss You Still)” heads back into the heart tugging zone where the album began. The-Dream crafts an appropriately moody backdrop for his apologetic and mournful lyrics. At this point, the album starts to get bogged down by all the reflective moments that litter some of the tracks. Thankfully, “Wish You Mine” helps to put things back on track.
The biggest missteps of the album come near the finishing stretch. Pharrell joins The-Dream for generic rich boy talk on “This Sh*t Real N***a.” Feelings of boredom reach the breaking point after the first batch of lame lyrics. “Form of Flattery” relies on a guitar and female voice sample that return to the all-too-familiar formula of emo R&B. The end of this song couldn’t have come any sooner, in my opinion.
This free album contains songs that deserve repeated plays due to their lush beats, catchy hooks, and above average features. But it also contains songs that are a waste of time and space. The good outweighs the bad, however; 1977 is a much needed holdover for The-Dream’s upcoming album, Love IV MMXII.
Let’s just hope he comes back a lot stronger on that one…