The day 27-year-old Terius "The-Dream" Nash signed his first major publishing deal four years ago, he called Checkers restaurant, where he waited tables, quit his job and hit the golf course.

The day 27-year-old Terius "The-Dream" Nash signed his first major publishing deal four years ago, he called Checkers restaurant, where he waited tables, quit his job and hit the golf course.

"I was making $33,000 a year with the music and $42,000 at my full-time. But, because this is what I wanted to do I dropped my day job and played 18 holes," says the singer/songwriter.

Though The-Dream performed music past -- playing snare since the third grade and performing in a band called Guess Who after high school - the deal at Peer Music appeared to wake him from a musical slumber. That same year, in 2003, the Atlanta-native wrote "Everything" for B2K's platinum-selling sophomore album "Pandemonium" and co-wrote the Britney Spears and Madonna duet, "Me Against the Music," with Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, another budding songwriter. As executive producer, he also collaborated on "Complicated" with singer Nivea, who is now his wife.

But in 2005, after a slow year, The-Dream decided to take a step back and requested he be released from his contract at Peer. "I wanted to hone my craft and it took me a whole year to do that," he explains.

After the time off, The-Dream re-teamed with Stewart and wrote "Suffocate," his first solid step back into music. "We never really worked together like that aside from the Madonna and Britney Spears record, but when [Tricky and I] wrote that record I was like, 'I think we got this,'" says The Dream.

And he was right. A few months later, the two penned the chart-topping hit "Umbrella" for singer Rihanna, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Shortly after, they joined forces again to work on another track called "Bed," which was the track that motivated the Dream to launch his own singing career. "I called Karen Kwak, Senior VP of A&R Operations at Island/Def Jam Music Group, and I told her I wanted to do this artist sh*t," he says. "I figured out what my voice needed to sound like to sell records. I sent her the song and she was like, 'crazy!'"

"Bed" was eventually sold to newcomer J. Holiday ("As incredible as the song is, I didn't want to be boxed in the R&B lane," says Dream), who dropped it as the first single off his debut album, "Back of My Lac." The track has since topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. "Chris Brown said it ['Bed'] wouldn't be No. 1 without him on it. So I was like, I'm gonna give this to someone people don't know and we'll see what happens. I bet someone $500,000 that it would go to No. 1 and I collected my money just last week," The-Dream reports.

"Suffocate" was released as Holiday's second single.

Today, The-Dream is working on his own debut, "Love Me All Summer, Hate Me All Winter," set for an Dec. 11 release via Island/Def Jam. He released his first single, a catchy mid-tempo called "Shawty Is a 10," which bowed on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in July and recently re-entered the tally at No. 31; the track has since risen to No. 21. He's set to service his second single, a sexy slow jam titled "Falsetto," in the next few weeks. A third single, "I Love Your Girl," will follow.

Though working on some last minute tweaks on his own project, The-Dream is still putting in studio time with some A-list artists. He recently worked with Celine Dion on a track called "Skies of L.A." and with Nicole Scherzinger from the PussyCat Dolls, for whom he wrote the song "Powers Out." Though details were scant, he's also in discussions with Mary J. Blige and husband Kendu Isaacs about a potential movie.

"I knew if I was going to do this job, I had to do it better than anyone else," The-Dream says. "God brought me focus and said, 'in order for you to have this now you're going to have to go through it a little bit.' Now, artists are gonna have to do some homework to find out who they are."

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