The Vault: ‘Shut It Down’- Drake

Rating: A+

If this is released as a single then I’m going to have to take it out of The Vault, but it has yet to be released so it belongs here for now. ‘Shut It Down’ was originally rumored to be the first single from Drakes debut album ‘Thank Me Later’. While Drakes album is full of hits this is by far his best song he has done to date.

The slow-jam proves itself to be the most R&B influenced song on the album. Written by both Drake and The-Dream the song is the slowest that we have heard from Drake thus far, yet could actually be the most exciting.

I’m glad that the song was pushed from being the lead Continue reading

‘Right Side of My Brain’- The Dream

Rating: B

I have already expressed my love for The Dream’s songwriting skills in multiple posts. I will say that his latest album, which is rumored to be his last, was a huge disappointment. His first and second albums were full of great songs, which unfortunately will never see the light of day. ‘Right Side of My Brain’ is a mid-tempo song lamenting about a difficult relationship and the affects, both physical and emotional, that it has on the body. To date it is the best of The Dream’s slower songs, and touches on a side of his that we rarely see; emotion.

The beat was done by Trick Stewart (naturally), who seems to be channeling Timbaland adding beat boxing as the songs bass line. I love when producers go outside of their comforts zones, especially on slower songs. The Dream and Tricky usually take from their same bag of tricks, so I enjoyed the fact that this song made the album. The synth line added at the end of the song adds even more emotion to the lyrics. When a producer uses their music to spark emotion, then they are doing their job quite well.

The Dream is a weak vocalist to say the least, so I doubt that he would ever sing this song live. There are certain parts that sound like he is stretching, but he manages to keep his composure. His harmonies during the last chorus sound great, and even fool me into thinking that he has a good voice. If The Dream could sing louder and bolder than I might like his voice. Still, even with a weak voice it somehow works for this song. His voice matches the lyrics, sounding both timid and hurt. The hook is good enough, but the “Ohs” in the chorus are obnoxious and don’t match the song. I love the bridge when the music is stripped down and then builds up. It may be the oldest trick in the book, but it works every time.

With his new album doing so bad I wanted to revisit his old material to remind myself why I like him. I wanted to share this song to hopefully shed light on it. I still don’t understand why he can write such good songs for other artist, but fails to deliver for himself. Hopefully he will be able to fix this problem in the future. If you don’t like the song the first time give it another chance. I realize that The Dream may not appeal to everyone, but I do believe that if a song is good enough the audience can look past the person who is singing it. Check it out!

The Vault: ‘Livin’ a Lie’ The Dream feat. Rihanna

Rating: A

This is a new segment called The Vault. Basically I am going to highlight songs that haven’t been released as a single, but are really good album tracks that never got to see radio play. Many times listening to an album I don’t understand why the best song isn’t on the radio. This segment will be a way to shine some light on the tracks that really deserve to be praised. The-Dream released his first album in late 2007, after he saw major success writing Rihanna’s worldwide hit ‘Umbrella’. The-Dream is a great song writer but really doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves. I will included The-Dream in a new song writing segment that I am going to start next week hopefully. The-Dreams first album ‘Love/Hate’ received critical acclaim and went gold. ‘Livin’ a Lie’ was one of the standout track on the album in my opinion. The-Dream hooked up with Rihanna for the song, which was initially why I assumed it was going to be a single. The song was produced by Los Da Mystro, who has worked with The-Dream quite often. The beat is nothing special, but it has a nice groove to it. Now looking back I am glad the song wasn’t released because it allows the song to still seem fresh when I listen to it. The song tells the story of The-Dream and Rihanna having a secret love that they must hid, hence the title of the song. The song is very similar to the formula of ‘Umbrella’ with the constant repeating of ‘inside’ and the ‘ayes’ in the beginning. The-Dream and Rihanna have great vocal chemistry. Neither one of them have really strong voices, which is why the sound nice. They each show off all of their vocal abilities in song, each of the singing in their higher register harmonies. I think that these are some of the best vocals that Rihanna has given to date. She really sings well over the last chorus with some great riffs. I do realize that this song isn’t exactly mainstream, so it may not appeal to a mass audience, but the song gets better which each listen. I think the songs that take longer to stick are usually better in the long run anyway. Being one of the best offerings by The-Dream today I can only wish that a track like this will be on his third album ‘Love King’ coming out in June. If you want a real good listen check out the entire Cd, until then keep listening to ‘Living’ a Lie’.

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