The North Carolina-born and Georgia raised singer-songwriter and producer set out to pay homage to hip hop and his Southern roots on the follow up to his 2013 album, IV Play. Sonically, more like the follow up to his first free release, 1977, which was released under his government name, Terius Nash in 2011 and rereleased by Def Jam for commercial sale the following year.Royalty: The Prequelis the first release from The-Dream and his partner, Tricky Stewart’s new “designer and culture” imprint, Contra Paris, not to be mistaken for a record label. The seven-track EP is filled with unapologetic references to expensive taste, odes to love, proof of passport stamps, shameless tales of marriage, divorce and marriage again and Southern culture.

“Ain’t been the same since I threw them Vogues on the lac/Leather in the guts/15s in the back/ Step up in the club/Gucci on the hat/You did that for three/What you gone do for a stack?/I’m from Atlanta,but this feels like Houston/I’m from Atlanta,but this feels like Houston,” The-Dream rap-sings on the EP’s lead standout track, “Pimp C Lives.” Strategically placed in the middle of the project, two other standout tracks follow, “Outkast” and “Wedding Bells.” 

Like a true hip hop head, the “Make Up Bag” singer compares real love to the first time he heard a favorite rap album, specifically Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik over a sample of Roy Ayer’s “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” which was also famously sampled by Mary J. Blige on “My Life.” “I’m just looking for that moment/That real love shit/That feeling that I felt when that first Outkast hit,” The-Dream sings on “Outkast.” 

“Wedding Bells,” a still-jaded, but brighter side to 1977’s “Wedding Crasher” is a “fuck it we might as well do it” wedding song, where the Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer admits to getting married just to throw a party and feels that his access to luxury makes up for his impediments. “She say you got too much fucking baggage/Baby so, but it’s LV all on my baggage/One day this money could disappear like magic/Two down and I’m working on this hat-trick,” he croons.

1977 was The-Dream’s most raw release, until now, which makes sense now that the Radio Killa is a free man. Nash is extremely vulnerable on “Lake Michigan,” where he compares love’s down side to the cold Great Lake, which mainly surrounds Chicago and metropolitan parts of Milwaukee. The-Dream closes out the album with a continuation of aquatic metaphors on “Cold,” which samples Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones Pt. 2.” Although, the “Fancy” singer is currently drowning in love, his free and independent releases are what keeps him afloat. 

Listen to the EP below and share your thoughts on it in the comment section.