The-Dream Breaks Down Debut Album 'Love Hate' for 10-Year Anniversary

Mike Coppola/WireImage
The-Dream poses for a portrait before attending his "The Art of IV Play"Exclusive Listening Party on May 22, 2013 in New York City. 

On December 11, 2007, Terius “The-Dream” Nash released his groundbreaking solo debut Love Hate. It’d be the chapter closer for a landmark year, which saw hip-hop and R&B formulating into the sound and culture that we know it as today. 

After years of penning for the likes of B2K and Britney Spears, the Atlanta songwriter’s big break came in 2007 — with the help of a couple “ella’s.” The alluring hook of Rihanna’s No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 smash “Umbrella” not only changed her career, but The-Dream’s as well. With the added success of J. Holiday’s No. 5 peaking debut single “Bed,” The-Dream decided to transition into a singing act.

“I felt like I needed to take full advantage of where I was at that time in my career,” the singer tells Billboard. “I didn’t want to wait for Usher, Chris Brown, Beyoncé, or Rihanna to sing my songs. I just felt like I needed to showcase what I did beyond artists at that particular point.” 

What usually comes as a struggle for most songwriters -- stepping in front of audiences for the first time -- came with ease for The-Dream: “It wasn’t a super transition because I think I was famous before I knew I was going to be famous.” Already having the demeanor of a rapper, he’d mix that attitude with his influences of '90’s hip-hop, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and the producing genius of Quincy Jones

Enlisting the help of his frequent collaborators and “brothers” Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Carlos “Los Da Mystro” McKinney, The-Dream would assemble contemporary R&B’s answer to Prince’s most sensual slow grooves. The 12-track LP — fully titled Love Me All Summer, Hate Me All Winter — received its name based on the “in’s and out’s of life,” the good versus bad in people, and “how everything [relates] to a carnival.”

The self-proclaimed (and proven) “Radio Killa” went in depth about all three classic singles and a few fan-favorite deep cuts from Love Hate

"Shawty Is Da Shit (Shawty Is a Ten)" feat. Fabolous

The album’s keyboard- and snapping -illed opener salutes women with dime appeals. The debut single — featuring an iconic acronym from Fabolous — would reach the Top 20 of the Hot 100. 

The-Dream: I hit my friend Carlos McKinney up, “Yo give me one of these!” He gave me the track. I [asked myself], “Alright what do I need to do or say to these beautiful women out here, and the people that are feeling great?” At the end of the day, “Shawty Is a Ten” is what it was. It’s like the perfect clean version. It just so happens to fall into place and I was like, “Thank God!” I couldn't believe it. And the rest is history on that record. It was my first record and the one that made me decide to have a career in the music business as an artist.

Billboard: Were you in the studio when Fabolous recorded his “sugar honey iced tea” punchline? 

The-Dream: I was not! But I was elated when that shit came back! I was happy as fuck! I was like, “Wow, I have the best Fab verse period!” 

"Falsetto"

The album’s epicenter which finds The-Dream hitting high “ooo’s” and “ah’s” throughout. As the second single, it reached the Top 30 of the Hot 100.

The-Dream: I just wanted to have a record with that R&B vibe and a big guitar solo in it. It reminded me of the '90’s. I knew that nobody knew what “Falsetto” was and that was just a play on words. Still to this day people are like, “What’s Falsetto?” and I respond, “It actually is what it says.” It was great that the song educated so many people that listen to music -- and that actually do make love. So for me, it’s a purely educational song. It was a pretty dope one on my part -- I have to at least pat myself on the back. 

"I Luv Your Girl" 

With a light 808-thump and another catchy hook filled with cruising vowels, the song became an anthem for all “Mr. Steal Your Girl”s. As the set's third single in 2008, the song included a Jeezy remix and reached the Top 20. 

The-Dream: “I Luv Your Girl” was one of those bold statements — you’re thinking it, but you better not fucking say it. You better not say it! I just wanted to remind the world that this is going on. When you have something beautiful around you, even when you’re not acting on it, that’s what’s going on. So I wanted to say that shit -- at the time, R&B guys didn’t want to say things in that nature. So I just wanted to make sure I coined it for myself. I did it on purpose.

That was the last record we did... It wasn’t officially on the main album at first. L.A. Reid asked me to do one more record, and thank God I don’t have an ego when it comes to doing another record. We were able to work that in the end, which is why Jeezy’s verse is on the remix and not the album. That was just a bold statement coming from an R&B guy that was fresh out the box. I’m sure a lot of people got beat up in the club after that record. 

"Nikki"

A trap&B lover’s revenge — turbo-fueled by buzzing stadium rock aesthetics — gloating about a seductive rebound who takes a few cues from Prince’s “Darling Nikki.”

The-Dream: Oh man, everyone wants to know who Nikki is! Nikki is just trouble man — which I call her Nicole, of course. Yeah… That’s a touchy one. I don’t want to talk about Nikki [Laughs]. You can just write, “The-Dream declines to talk about Nikki.” 

"Purple Kisses"

A fan favorite that includes the sound of The-Dream’s signature loopy synth.

The-Dream: That’s one of my favorite bedroom songs of mine. I don’t perform it enough. I want to say sorry to [all my fans]. More than anything, “Purple Kisses” just came about because I’m very hands on, especially in relationships. I’m like the person they take shopping to get the new Chanel, Bobby Brown, or whatever it is -- I have to be there. I think it kind of comes through with records like “Purple Kisses."

In the simple form, it’s just about listening, but not really. It’s more about being detailed and intimate with somebody and doing for somebody what they’re doing for you, and how they go about their daily lives. Guys don’t know those things, and that’s why I think the women love it more, and why I should perform it more.

"Livin’ a Lie" feat. Rihanna

An uptempo bop that finds The-Dream and Rihanna singing about being secret lovers pretending to be friends. 

The-Dream: Rihanna did [the song] for me, and she just went straight into the studio. I remember I had a flight from Vegas to L.A. in the middle of the night, at like 1 a.m., and we did the record. That’s just one of my heartfelt moments, especially because it was a feature with a girl whose life I felt like I changed. And through that song -- even though it didn’t come out as a single -- it felt like she changed my life by being on that record.

That’s like my favorite feature of them all. I love Rihanna period! That’s my n---a! I loved her since I met her. And not in a way that’s petty. Love her as a human being and as a person.

Certain songs you can tell when someone is just featured, but [this one], there’s a chemistry because there is love and adoration. We were supposed to shoot a video to that this year. She said, “Yo. Let’s do it” [after suggesting a Love Hate ten year anniversary tour], but, both our schedules got out of hand.