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The-Dream’s ‘Ménage à Trois’ Is an R&B Endurance Test

Terius Nash’s latest release is a 40-song triple-album

The-Dream

The-Dream released a triple-album the Friday before Christmas.

Daniel Zuchnik/Getty

The 2010s haven’t been kind to Terius Nash, who releases music as The-Dream. He was once a first-call writer-producer entrusted with artists’ lead singles, thanks to his work on major hits for J. Holiday and Beyoncé; now he’s an album-cut guy. And after an initially successful solo career, Nash hasn’t scored a Top 10 R&B hit in 10 years — even when he released duets with major names like Mariah Carey or Kanye West. It’s not just that he’s not writing at the level he once was; his vision of pop as a producer was springy and bright, and that team lost this round.

So it’s hard to know what he’s hoping to accomplish with his new 40-song triple-album, Ménage à Trois: Sextape, Vol. 1, 2, 3. If it’s a grand artistic statement, it goes against Nash’s history — his greatest successes never mistook length for vitality. And if the length is a play for the charts, it seems poorly designed: Unlike Migos, Drake or Chris Brown, who all released massive tomes recently, The-Dream has zero hit singles to draw in curious potential streamers. On top of that, he scheduled his Ménage à Trois right before Christmas, when holiday madness keeps many listeners’ attention elsewhere.

For those who push aside their presents and turn to the three Sextape volumes, each installment offers a song or two that makes an impression. The low-slung “Forever” contains smart contrasts — the singing suggests a lullaby, while the bass is pitched to damage car windows. “Change You” is an anti-love song arranged as a 2 a.m., empty-bar piano ballad: “Don’t let this dick change you,” Nash croons, sweet as pie and patronizing as hell, “and I won’t let that pussy change me.” The drums in “Human Beings” are tuned to Prince circa 1984, a period that has always inspired Nash to greater heights.

But even the greatest vocalists in history might struggle to maintain a listener’s interest over 40 songs. This certainly trips up Nash, who has never been the most technically gifted or inventive singer. (That’s partly why his biggest hits are other people’s songs.) And while sex is an endlessly inspiring topic, it begins to sound pretty rote on Ménage à Trois. “I ain’t no rapper, I just fuck a lot;” “I want your body on the platter, take your heels on the side;” “‘This the life,’ that’s what she said when we’re in bed.” As the conquests blur together, so do the songs, and even with its imposing length, Ménage à Trois won’t get the self-proclaimed “Radio Killah” back on the radio.

In This Article: R&B, The-Dream

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