The-Dream Talks '1977,' Public Heartbreak and His Def Jam Future

As expected, The-Dream released a new album at the tail end of this summer -- but instead of continuing his opulent "Love" album series, the singer/songwriter/producer used a free "Internet album," "1977," as a way to keep himself fresh on the minds of R&B and pop fans.

"I just wanted to give the people something, because I felt like it was so much time going by," The-Dream tells Billboard.com. The singer was originally slated to release "The Love, IV (Diary of a Mad Man)," the follow-up to 2010's "Love King," on Sept. 20, but after the album got pushed back indefinitely due to "contract talks" with Def Jam Records, The-Dream released "1977" as a free download on Wednesday (Aug. 31) under his real name, Terius Nash. "You can't see that much of me if I don't put records out, so I just had to put it out. The business of a label is to make money -- my business is to make music. I'm gonna get paid if I do it right. So I'm fine with [releasing a free album]. It's more like advertisement for me."

Recorded in just two weeks, "1977" offers a more intense version of The-Dream's synth-driven, hook-laden sound: songs like "Wake Me When It's Over," "Long Gone" and "1977 (Miss You Still)" are wrenching accounts of scorned romance and ineffable regret. The 11-song album arrives a little over a year after The-Dream separated from Christina Milian, the pop singer he married in Sept. 2009 and with whom he shares a 1-year-old daughter, Violet.

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The-Dream admits that "1977" is a "very personal" album that chronicles his upsetting experiences over the past few years -- so much so that he has already received concerned phone calls from people who didn't expect to hear the singer to sound so emotionally damaged.

"Everybody's like, 'Oh, okay. Now I get it,'" he says. "I was in a place a couple years ago -- it didn't look like it, but people would ask me questions about whatever and I'd say, 'Yeah, it's cool. Everything's great.' But that was also going into a different part of me, because I had never had to be publicly in the middle of a relationship going good or bad, having to answer questions about my relationships."

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The-Dream says that most of "1977" tap into those feelings, specifically noting the song "Wedding Crasher," in which he sings about hopelessly trying to replace the girl that got away while delivering a drunken toast at her wedding. "You get to a place where you go and chase all of these stars -- literally and figuratively -- and, well, the moon's good enough. That's how it is. That's what the song is," he says.

As previously hinted on Twitter, The-Dream says that people at Def Jam are "not too happy about" the free release of "1977," but reveals that his relationship with the label is much improved after the two sides disputed over the rollout of "Love King." "Oh yeah, they're better than this time last year, definitely," he says of his ties to Def Jam. "I won't be able to make the same rookie mistake that I made before, which is, with 'Love King,' turning it in at the wrong time and not picking my own singles, which was never the case on the first two albums. That just won't ever happen again. So now we're in a place where we're all good."

The-Dream Releases Free 'Internet' Album, '1977'

With anticipation still high for "The Love, IV," The-Dream wants to assure fans that the album is nearly complete, and that he's still angling for a release by the end of 2011. "I'm gonna try. Maybe I should put out another free album-I'm sure that Def Jam would assassinate me!" he laughs. "I'll probably keep writing [for 'The Love, IV']. I've gotten a couple phone calls -- they wanted to take two records from this '1977' album and maybe shoot a couple videos for them and cap them onto the album. But it's pretty much done."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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