It’s impossible to think of him being any different. A shredded up and stardom-driven Dream would not be a sympathetic figure. He would probably have his way much more easily and not care so much about us. He would feel entitled to his success and less generous with his gifts. He would, to put it frankly, be an asshole. But he is not. He is the opposite of that—a lovable, relatable, regular dude with an incredible gift and a perspective on where he got it. When I ask him what exactly made him this way, he has only one story.
Dream’s grandfather, a cement mason who raised him not far from here in Bankhead, never lived beyond his means, which were respectable considering his union wages throughout the ’70s and ’80s. He took care of his family and his money, but wasn’t tightfisted. “We lived in the hood but we had a boat,” Dream remembers. “Nobody in the hood had a boat. And he didn’t owe anyone for it. I don’t even remember a car note. He’d rather get a ’83 Impala and say, ‘It might be a piece of shit, but it’s my piece of shit.” He taught Dream about working hard and having pride in his accomplishments. And if he bought Dream some shoes that mysteriously got left out in the rain, Dream would learn a hard lesson about appreciating gifts. He would take his grandson to the top of the Nations Bank building, the tallest in Atlanta, the floors of which he laid, and tell him how to earn a living. Dream would follow his grandfather to the social club and watch him smoke cigars, play pinochle and float around the room for hours, soaking up the men’s camaraderie and refinement, now clearly reflected in his manner and taste. He also told his grandson later on, when Dream was seriously getting into music, that he wouldn’t make a penny doing something so frivolous as writing songs. The way The-Dream now labors in the studio you’d think he’s building a monument to prove his grandfather wrong, but it’s the opposite. He’s doing exactly what his grandfather taught him. It’s a life envisioned, and then achieved, by the man whose name makes a lot more sense after you meet him. The-Dream has been planning this in his head since he was a kid, and now that he’s getting it, he’s going to share it with anyone who wants some.