By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Great songwriters succeed at transforming the most primitive of human emotions and incidences into lyrics, and those lyrics into radio gems. (Hence Dream's nickname, Radio Killa.) Consider "Sweat It Out," a song about how black women "sweat out" our perms during sex (an R. Kelly–inspired attention to odd detail), wherein Dream adoringly advises his girl to "Call up Tisha/Your beautician/'Cause your hair is gon' need fixin'."
"A hit topic is a hit song," Dream says. "If a woman's having a discussion that's gonna last all night, to me, that's what I would write about. That's where it starts."
With his conversational, often profanity-laced tone ("I'm makin' my way through the motherfuckin' club/I got that Patron up in my muhfuckin' cup"), Dream is talking more than singing. His vocals, favoring the falsetto range, aren't stunning, but he knows his pipes aren't his greatest draw. Love vs. Money improves with each listen. "L.A. Reid had this discussion about how all stars aren't the same," he explains. "Kanye's a different star than Usher is. They were built two different ways. I'm a different star than Usher or Chris Brown. Either you are interesting or you're not. I'm just kinda crazy, so I guess that makes me interesting, I don't know. Whatever it is, it has to be something." Maybe something in the eh.