July 18, 2012

The-Dream “Dope Bitch” from IDJVID on Vimeo.

Deen fanuted “Fanute” into the New York Times. What have you done?

I present the best use of copious amounts of baby powder since Ashy Larry last graced our television screens. Which begs the question; “can the video channels even air this shit?” Which in turn begs another question; “do folks still watch music videos and if so, do video channels still show videos?” (ignore the double-barreled question). None of these questions are facetious – I really don’t know what might be a set of obvious answers to dated questions because I’m one of those annoying people that “doesn’t watch TV.” Sorry.

Whatever. On to the music.

Methinks that at this point, I’m not going out on a limb when I state that The-Dream has long since passed “guilty pleasure” status and is pretty close to “best R&B new jack” doing it these days (my only other candidate for that title is Miguel – if he’d abandon those fey, cockerel-tribute haircuts he seems to favor). I’m not sure if it’s a criticism to note that The-Dream’s voice is dumb weak, but his music works well despite that flaw, given that he and Tricky Stewart seem to have a prenatural sense of what kind of material works well with said voice (and several other voices – to get paid). Over the course of 3 albums and one really interesting mixtape, The-Dream has managed to fanute his initial “shitty R.Kelly/Prince tribute act” vibe into respectability. In other words, I fux with his music heavy. Can’t say the same for most of the other singers in his generation.

As for “Dope Bitch”, I’d posit that this is the best kind of The-Dream song – one in which his personality comes to the fore, as opposed to playing “spot the influence.” The first single from his upcoming album (it has Roman numerals in the title, fuck that), “Roc”, suffered from that exact flaw. R.Kelly was the obvious pick on that one (even if the song has some synths in common with Usher’s “Burn”) and I’d say the charts responded appropriately (it kinda flopped).

4 albums in it’s fair to relegate the tribute type shit to album track material and focus on selling yourself – The-Dream does just that to great effect on “Dope Bitch”, placing that weak ass voice front and center. That said, the real star of the show might be the breakbeat that drives the song – I’ve heard that shit a billion times and it never gets old – even though I can’t place the exact sample source at the moment (forgive me, I’m jetlagged as fuck).

Given the metaphor at play, I expected a bit more from Pusha-T, but that’s not to say that his verse was weak or anything like that. I just wanted that nigga to frolic hard all over a track about dope/dope bitches. He’s only spent his entire career doing this shit. I’m probably just being a nitpicky asshole. Yeah, I’m definitely being a nitpicky ass, because this song is right up there with my other choices for favorite single of the year. I dig it that much. Many shoulder jigs have been sacrificed to this lil’ jingle.

The most promising/ominous thing about The-Dream and Pusha-T’s performance on this shit (as well as “Exodus 23:1”) is that their collaborations are bearing dope fruit. That bodes well for Pusha-T’s solo project – whenever the hell that’s slated for. For me, the concern with that project is that devoid of The Neptunes. Pusha-T isn’t entirely comfortable making commercial rap songs. He’s made some solid efforts, but most of his best solo-single work has come via well-cushioned collaborations (see “Amen with Jeezy & Kanye” or “Bodywork ft. Juicy J, French Montana & Meek Mill” or “Mercy ft. You Know Who” – which isn’t really his shit anyway). Luckily for Pusha, collaborations are still all the rage in today’s music (despite Nas’ best efforts to single-handedly outrap the entire planet on Life Is Good), so he oughta be fine.

But on the off-chance that collaborations don’t lead to a Pusha-T becoming a solo star, he can always go sell cocaine again (only if Malice approves). I’m convinced that he was a virtuoso at that shit too…

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