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“I make every nigga irrelevant. I’m sex-intelligent,” coos The-Dream on 2010’s Love King, and it’s clear which part of the title really matters. With his gilded, atmospheric production and vocals Auto-tuned into liquid, the beat-maker born Terius Nash basically laid the sonic groundwork for the recent bumper crop of solipsistic R&B artists, from megastars like Drake to Internet phenoms like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. This year, The-Dream will complete a tetralogy of love-themed full-lengths, but the producer/singer—who’s responsible for hits like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”—definitely isn’t a romantic. His most straightforward ballads win on technical merits; the moments that really transport are either freaky (think Prince), heavy on swagger (think R. Kelly), or plainly opulent: “Don’t let your good girl go bad,” he sings at one point. “Drop five stacks on the make-up bag.” The-Dream got a little vulnerable last year on 1977, a free “Internet album” released under his given name, but that record’s primary mode is anger—at an ex, at artists who’ve aped his sound—not ardor. If the audience is lucky, both Terius Nashes will show up tonight. Either way, don’t consider it a thematically reliable backdrop for a first date.
The-Dream performs tonight at 8 p.m. at The Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $25. fillmoresilverspring.com. (301) 960-9999.