The-Dream — “Falsetto”

Released: 9.28.07

Peak: #30

The shadow of R. Kelly loomed large over the ’00s. As prison threatened to subtract the lewd master from the R&B game, Terius Nash emerged among the friendlier pretenders to the throne–The-Dream may not boast Kells’ physical gifts, but his taste in kink is less ludicrous. Which ain’t to say vanilla: The-Dream merely used his freaky imagination to expand sexual options for both partners, rather than to discover what nasty shit she’d let him get away with.

The lead single from Love/Hate, “Shawty Is Da Shit” (known in primmer circles as “Shawty Is a 10”) lusted after the newly grown cuties he remembered teasing on the playground; single #3, “I Luv Your Girl,” argued convincingly that T-D was the better of two options for the lady in question. But “Falsetto,” released in between, best shows off his bedroom bona fides, its central conceit recalling the old bit where Richard Pryor spots Minnie Ripperton in his audience and fantasizes about hearing a woman climax to those ridiculous high notes from “Lovin’ You.”

The vocal hook on the “Falsetto” chorus suggests a dirtier “Umbrella,” and The-Dream tacks on a few “ella”s as a coda, lest we forget, though they’ll hardly seal the deal if you ain’t wet before then. Even more seductive is Tricky Stewart’s tidal groove, laps forward and back gently but insistently, and the low churn underneath, especially a nasty guitar rumble that’s less solo than interlude.

The-Dream’s boasts are playful rather than belligerent; when his gal teases him, calling “last night a fluke,” he sets out to prove himself again in round two, rather than getting all pissy. And “Falsetto” leaves open the possibility that the reason Dream gets off on her ecstatic squeak might just be because he likes to hear a woman enjoy herself.

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