Buddy

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10min1330

Previous Return of The Dreamers instalments had the make-up of a mixtape, the soppiness of a demo and were lethargic as those preseason warm-up matches in sport. But Revenge of The Dreamers III is purely a case of third luck’s a charm for J.Cole and the Dreamville squad.

The first ROTD was released in 2014 with the follow-up coming in 2015.  The projects left one with a sense that Dreamville was just testing the waters. But this current shit here slaps, quite hard.

I’m only realising this as I write, that we were actually conditioned to expect more than we got from the previous projects, by the marketing gimmick Dreamville pulled earlier this year. They publicly invited artists they wanted to have on this project, on social media. I ain’t an artist and I’m not even in the US nogal. But those invitations didn’t only leave one excited, but just wana be in there…even nje just to witness the sickness. I can bet you my speakers that a shit load of artists, in the US were green with envy.

“Cole was like ‘man we should make invitations’ and then I was just like damn that’s actually kinda genius. We literally got it out to people the day we got here, we were supposed to do it ahead of time and then that day, we just stared seeing people posting, posting, posting,” said Ibrahim ‘Ib’  Hamad, President and co-founder of Dreamville speaking in a the documentary Dreamville Presents: REVENGE.

The album featured 34 artists and 27 producers, this is out of the 343 individuals invited to record it in 10 days.

“That shit worked out crazy like, people hit my phone, everybody wana come and everybody’s welcome at the same time, you know what I mean,” said Cole. “For me it was like, literally a golden ticket typa situation.”

Months flew and the excitement fizzled, but somehow, sporadically reignited by a J.Cole verse on other artists’ joints in the months leading up to now.  But the eagerness for ROTD III came back to us quicker than Babes did to Mampintsha, after watching the enticing Dreamville Presents: REVENGE.

Sonically, ROTD III is refreshing…looking at where Dreamville comes from as a label. They were, and are largely still seen as one of the torch bearers of the Boom-Bap sound and that real rap shit. This album has various sounds, but each song never veers off what Dreamville seems to represents, realness.

It’s symbolic that Dreamville hosted a slew of artists, and even in the web of sounds, no one forgot that these dreamers are tryna pay revenge.  The stable has grown in sound and artistry…the songs uniquely represented the folks at Dreamville. The seemingly organic chemistry they had with the outside artists, isn’t unusual for Dreamville because the stable has an assortment of artists, who hail from different parts of the country.

The weed joint, 1993 produced by Elite is so Wu-Tang. I’ve been listening to Buddy’s music for a year or two now, and his energy on shit is always palpable. He doesn’t rap on this track, but serves his purpose on the song. The blunt is seen as the microphone, and vice-versa to which Buddy is the conductor. Cole and JID complemented each other well with their verses, coming correct.

JID is Dreamville’s poster boy and he further proved why on this project. Ladies, Ladies, Ladies produced by Kal Banx has JID musing over past lovers alongside the big bro from ATL T.I. It’s a smooth ditty, delivered in an attempted to sound hard, but both kats come out sounding dope cute.

I would’ve liked to see Cole, Ib and Top Dawg’s reaction soon as they heard LamboTruck. I saw Reason as just a decent kat before this joint, but his cadence and pen game was above par. So was Cozz…and they both sounded deliberately humorous. The two West Coast kats’ comfortability with each other reminded me of the chemistry between East coast’s Method Man & Redmad. LamboTruck also represents the kindship between Top Dawg Entertainment and Dreamville, far more than just the business.

Ari Lennox, Dreamville’s empress, owned her space on the project. Self Love featuring Bas and Baby Rose is one of those songs that would sit well on an Ari project. She got swallowed up though, by Ty Dolla $ign on Got Me– if that beat was America, Ty Dolla $ign would be the white race. Omen hasn’t shrugged off sounding like Cole, but the Friday Night Lights/ The Warm Up Cole- nice, but still on the come up. The track is produced by Mdbeat, Deputy and OZ.

Bas can be a bit sluggish when solo, on his own shit but Abbas Hamad rapped out of his skin on Down Bad, rapping with stable mates JID, EARTHGANG, J.Cole and 21 Savage’s cousin Young Nudy.

Sacrifices, Wells Fargo, Oh Wow…Swerve are other songs worth mentioning that give the album more body and gravitas to even dare call it an album. There are songs the alum could’ve done without, like Swivel and Sleep Deprived .

It’s natural to wonder what will happen to the songs we heard in the documentary, which were recorded in the 10 days but didn’t make the 18 track cut. And I suppose it’s also natural to sit there and think why they didn’t invite so-and-so…because of the vast possibilities and expectations that come with putting together such a project. So it is what it is.

But Dreamville gave dreamers hope with this one, without being melodramatic about it.


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7min4980

The ubiquity of rap singers over the past few years has changed how people see the Hip Hop genre. The era before this was one that vilified a kat for being in-tune with his emotions. Labelling it gay, soft, weirdo or butt-check music.

Andre 3000 was one of the first male rappers, who was comfortable in his own skin. His courage has influenced a generation of the rappers who can hold a note and spit some bars. Had Three Stacks not did what he did, I doubt we would have the same Chance The Rapper, GoldLink, Smino, Kyle or Aminé. All these boys are undeniably influenced by R&B, Neo Soul and have the make-up of a Hip Hop artist.

Buddy is no exception. The Los Angeles rapper released his debut album, Harlan & Alondra last month. Through the 12 tracks on the album, you get the life-story of the L. A artist. Given that he was singed under Pharrell’s company, i Am OTHER, for the longest of time I expected the album to be on point sonically. And so it was. Buddy’s singing is good on the ear and doesn’t come off as an obligatory effort. You can tell he started out as a singer, and then picked up the rapping along the way, because his singing stronger than his bars on some of the joints.

It’s songs like Speechless, which make me visualize artists in studio recording.  The track is sexy, smooth with a punch funk. Trouble On Central takes us to his neighbourhood in Compton, where he paints a picture of his troubled adolescence and hopes of moving out of the hood. While Shine is delightful blend of his raps and singing.

The flow on Shameless is a nod to the Migos. It was a genius idea to get Guapdad 4000 to spit his verse first on the song. Although he’s the featured artist, he sets the tone with his slick verse. Buddy’s verse, juxtaposed the recurring theme on Trouble On Central, highlights the progress he’s made in the last few years as an artist and a person. His EP with virtuoso producer and DJ Kaytranada, Ocean & Montana which came out a year ago, changed the trajectory of his career in a good way. It was through that EP, that I got introduced to Buddy. I don’t think he has particularly grown since the release of that project, as an artist, but Harlan & Alondra is a fuller body of work. You get more of who he is. His other work include 2015 mixtape Idle Time, and EP, Magnolia which came out last year.

Like his former boss Pharrell, Buddy has appreciation of different genres and other artists’ crafts. He’s features were very calculated and the song with Snoop Dogg, The Blue, gives Snoop liberty to be himself and add that to the song, which makes it doper. I never would’ve imaged Buddy working with A$AP Ferg, who spat one of the dopest verses on the whole album. I really hope to see the two performing this joint at one of the big award shows. The lyrics are heavy, but thankfully the beat is so sick, the shit doesn’t sound preachy.

Find Me 2 is a good song and as you might guess, there will be inevitable comparisons to Find Me which was on Ocean & Montana and the more upbeat first version has a special place in my heart. Like a teenage Bonginkosi, I’ll have to wait for the new version to grow on me, like pubic hair.

The album has definite replay value. Songs like Real Life S**t and Trippin’ give it legs to be in people’s faces and ears for a long time. It’s difficult getting an album with bad production and this album has good beats that capture the essence of the song. I’m excited for Buddy’s growth. I genuinely think more dopeness is gonna come from this kid as he grows as a lyricist and an overall artist



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