In recent years the mainstream R&B scene for male artists has been all but monopolized by a few artists. Usher always leads the pack to adopt the freshest production strategies: "Yeah" transformed the crunk sound from a tasteless phase to a neverending pop mantra and "OMG" conscientiously rips the popular style of Black Eyed Peas' latest album. Then there's T-Pain the hook monster, constantly offering his auto-tuned one-liner services to rappers for better ("Good Life") or for worse ("All I Do Is Win"). An honorable mention goes to R. Kelly for sheer staying power and chops. Alongside these consistent hitmakers we have the gigantic slew of R&B singers whose song titles prove distinctly more memorable than the artists themselves. In five years we'll all remember the words to "Birthday Sex" but who sang that tune anyway? The same goes for plenty of other tunes that hit number one: "Break Your Heart", "Sexy Can I", "Down".

So where does this leave The-Dream? He may drift into obscurity like many of the lesser R&B acts of late but only thanks to the emphasis on singles in the mainstream music scene. Based on the new album, Love King, his ability to pen a structured pop record is undeniable. Working within the unwritten limits of genre staples (loud kick drum, snaps in the A section, flanged snares in the B section, low notes on the piano, hasty snare fills, low pitched vocal adlibs, etc.) he masterfully crafts catchy and well developed song after song. Polished and never forced, The-Dream proves he's an artist with enough creativity and knack for doing pop trends right that he won't slip through the cracks engineered by fleeting R&B singers anew.

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