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.
“EVERBODY likes it raw,” said J.I.D unintendedly eluding to copulation, while answering a question about his new album DiCaprio 2.
J.I.D was speaking in Rosebank, Johannesburg at Universal Music where the listening session of his album was held on Friday night.
J.I.D released the first DiCaprio in 2015. The name of the EP was an ode to his favourite actor Leonardo DiCaprio, because they both had been putting out quality work in their respective fields, but not receiving acknowledgement for it.
“I was like wow, he doesn’t have an Oscar [award] he’s one of the greatest, and he’s putting out quality work. So this time around, I got a record deal, know what I’m sayin’…due to all the hard work I was putting in. I got a deal, he got his Oscar and I’m like this is perfect timing,” J.I.D said.
The rapper whose real name is Destin Route, said there isn’t going be another DiCaprio album, despite his fondness for the Titanic actor. But what has Leonardo DiCaprio said about his name and legacy being celebrated in this manner by a rapper he doesn’t even know? Not much.
The only time Leo found out about J.I.D and his project, was briefly through Q.Tip when the Dreamville artist was at Tip’s house just three weeks ago to play him DiCaprio 2. Q.Tip sent Leo a video of himself and J.I.D, telling the actor about the young rapper and his project. “Leo texts back in 30 seconds ‘oh thanks Ima check it out when it comes out, but fuck that, are you coming to my party?’ he was talking to Q.Tip -he just changed subjects real fast, so I got a few words from Leo, he knows I’m alive,” said J.I.D which had the whole room in amusement.
The trailer of the 14 track album was shown on the night, prior delving into the actual music. It was an intimate setting, with a manageable audience, who had opportunity to ask the J.I.D anything- the rapper even had time to take photos and have a moment with each of his fans after the listening session. The producer of Never, Underwear and some of J.I.D’s bangers, Christo was stationed behind the sound desk, playing each song on the album.
Most of us in the audience had already heard songs like Working Out, 151 Rum and Off Deez, in the months leading up to the release.
Explaining the track 151 Rum, J.I.D said the intro of the song was partly inspired by a doccie on mind control he watched recently “…it’s literally 20 tracks of me, my homies and home girls literally saying stuff that I want you to hear, I don’t know if you can hear it, but it sounds like a crowd chatter. What I learnt through the documentary, is that all that stuff feeds into your psyche.”
At first listen, the album goes in like a thong, with the trademark bass from Atlanta and with enough bop to accommodate J.I.D’s flow. The second track on the album, Slick Talk had everyone in the room at Universal Music in a craze, especially J.I.D’s second verse where he raps: This the type of shit that have niggas in beef, Dat slick talk followed by some stick talk then sleep, Pissed off, I done took my fifth loss this week, Big dog, I can scratch that shit off like flees, I got a lot of shit to say, but I’ma keep my list short, I know a lotta your favourites not gon’fuck with this part, When I’m done, please know that I was trying to diss y’all, ‘Cause if this is competition, then I’m setting this bar, In my city, who’s with me? I’m in my own lane Jack, Nigga said “J.I.D so flame, I propane rap” I’m from East Atlanta like Gucci and Travis Porter, But my story is similar to the hare and the tortoise
As he did before playing any track off the album, he broke down the story behind it. From the audience’s reaction, you would’ve guessed all types of drugs were being freely given out like candy after he explained what Off da Zoinkys is about. Zoinkys represent drugs, whichever your preference. The joint is a sample from a Rick Ross track, 3 Kings Feat. Dr. Dre and Jay-Z.
Y’all niggas need to lay off the drugs, Some of y’all need to lay off the dope, My niggas getting it straight off the boat, Pure cut, put it straight to your nose, I ain’t nosy, but I know what I know, Mr. Know it all, oh here he go I’m the GOAT, I never go with the flow, Throwing shots boy, blow for blow, I’m the nigga that kick the do’ with the dough
There was a brief unfeigned moment of sadness when J.I.D said Mac Miller was the one who arranged Skrawberries, which was produced by J.Cole, with Masego on the horns. The love song features BJ The Chicago Kid and was supposed to have a verse from Mac-after listening to it, I couldn’t resist the thought of Mac’s hoarse voice on the beat. The album has a fair number of features, some which are unexpected. Like Hot Box with Joey Bada$$ and Mehtod Man- you’d swear all three are native New Yorkers in how J.I.D doesn’t spit like a kat from Atlanta.
J.I.D was in the country for a week, spending some time in Cape Town and at the Kruger National Park. He cried immediately after landing from his flight from China. But what stood out was his sense of black pride and his soul’s satisfaction with being on the continent for the first time. “My whole message is about black plight bro, it’s about being a descendent slave…”
“I cry like a little baby bro, facts. Just because it was so beautiful, I didn’t expect this shit to look like this; they don’t teach us this shit in school, they don’t tell us about how beautiful this is, they only give us the negative. I’m not opposed to anything, I’m just super pro black. I fuck with all races, the minorities and the majorities, but at the same time I’m about this shit right here (pointing to his skin).”
DiCaprio 2 officially came out yesterday, a day after J.I.D performed at an event in Joburg, which Masego was supposed to headline too but was stranded in Europe.
I’m one of those people who, whenever I have a new clothing item, I wear it out. Chances are, I’ll be in this new piece whenever you see me. Maybe it’s an addictive personality I have, or I plainly do not have a big enough collection in my closet.
I’m like that with music too.
Whenever I have a strong connection with a song, it never leaves my playlist as my favourite clothes never depart my body. I just liked the Tribe joint on the new Bas album, Milky Way. On the track he features his boss, J.Cole.
It’s this love song, which celebrates their partners, that hasn’t allowed the chance for other tracks on my playlist. The song is my definition of a feel-good Hip Hop joint, the hook is catchy, the beat has sufficient bounce and the rappers are in pocket.
This is Bas’s third album, after his 2016 release Too High to Riot. Singed under Cole’s Dreamville Company, Bas is part of stable of ill new-age emcees led by Cole. He isn’t the best lyricist as J.I.D or Cozz, but Bas can make good music. Feel good music.
The Queens, New York native is in a good place in life and that’s the general feel of the album. It’s celebratory and affectionate. I can’t say there’s great improvement or growth from the previous album. But like his previous work, there are songs with definite replay value. The similarities between the albums is frighteningly palpable.
One of my favourites, Barack Obama Special could fit well on his previous project. The tone of his voice, sounds good on sad, laid back music.
The rapper sounds apprehensive as he has self-introspection on Barack Obama Special, talking about his successes and the challenges he goes through as an artist in the industry, taking care of his family and his boys and all that comes with where he is, in life right now.
His flow is monotonous, which limits him to doing other things with his voice. Also, I get the sense that he’s a bit of a lazy writer or just economical with his bars. But it’s bothersome because you never quite get enough of who he is on his tracks. On Tribe, I think he should’ve spit another verse after Cole.
For a Sudanese young black person, born in Paris, raised in Queens, who was addicted to drugs and now is touring the world from rapping-I expect more colourful stories from him. That’s the growth I felt this album lacked. Gets to a point where it sounds like interlude music. A stronger Bas on the raps and storytelling, could be the equivalent of an Isaiah Rashad.
What Bas did differently in this project though, is his beat selection or just the incorporation of House or up tempo beats on some tracks. Not being a House fan, you can’t begin to imagine my irritation, brought by those few tracks. I was livid when Spaceships + Rockets came on. I thought someone sneaked in and added shit to my playlist. But annoying as it was, I think Moe Monks and MOma+Guy vocals are killer dope.
His choice of features was spot on. Stablemate Ari Lennox on Icarus was just fresh as the air in the early hours of the morning on the song. A$AP Ferg is killing the features this season, he seems to serve his purpose on every track he’s on and does so on Boca Raton.
The album is a good listen, but I will stop frequently jamming it like I do with wearing my newly found clothing item, when it doesn’t excite anymore. But I will definitely go back to it once in a while.