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California dreamin': The-Dream's Myspace show at Area (with Kanye West)*

March 11, 2009 | 12:55 pm

Dream250 It’s not hard to see why Def Jam is in the midst of a massive promotional blitz surrounding the release of The-Dream’s sophomore effort, “Love Vs. Money.” At times, the lustful R&B lover man born Terius Nash can sound like a febrile Frankenstein’s monster cobbled from equal parts R. Kelly, Usher and Prince — with the production aspirations of Timbaland. Plus, he’s the man who co-wrote Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” songs that achieved that increasingly rare description: cultural ubiquity. In a bleeding record industry, The-Dream has them seeing green.

One of Def Jam's local fetes will include a MySpace "The Release" show Thursday night, at West Hollywood nightclub Area — complete with a Kanye West guest appearance to help perform the single “Walking on the Moon.” The show, free to the first 200 people who arrive with a printout of their MySpace profile displaying The-Dream in their top friends, also will feature appearances from up-and-coming Def Jam girl group Electrik Red, and DJ sets from Dwele and DJ Knuckles. And, of course, The-Dream, who will likely sing songs from “Love Vs. Money.” (Apparently, writing multi-platinum-selling singles insulates you from the recession’s vagaries.)

Released Tuesday, “Love Vs. Money” firmly establishes The-Dream as one of R&B’s most prominent new stars — one worthy of  critical and commercial acclaim but certainly flawed. The Atlanta-raised crooner’s latest album, even in an often maudlin genre,  occasionally veers toward the tediously elliptical. There’s a limit to how many times you can hear variations on the conflict between love and Lincolns. Nor was it necessary to write “Kelly’s 12 Play,” a song about — you guessed it — making love to the R. Kelly 1993 classic of the same name. At times, one gets the sense that Nash might have been well served by varying his musical diet, with Kelly’s shadow towering over the proceedings.

Yet, The-Dream and production partner Christopher “Tricky” Stewart have a gift for crafting complex but catchy productions that salvage the frequent facelessness. “Love Vs. Money’s” lead singles, “Rockin’ That Thang” and “Walking on the Moon,” are undeniably infectious, with the latter a good bet to emulate Estelle’s success on last year’s similarly West-aided “American Boy.” What I’m trying to say is that you should probably get there early.

--Jeff Weiss

Update: The original post referred to The-Dream's Myspace show as secret. The concert is actually a fully publicized Myspace "The Release" show.

The-Dream with special guest appearance from Kanye West at Area, 643 N. La Cienega Blvd., (310) 652-2012. 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Photo: The-Dream with Kris Jacob at last year's Grammys. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times