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.
A self-confessed foodie, SiR unfortunately did not get to experience true local cuisine, but fed the souls of many who came out on Friday night to see him perform at the Alchemy festival.
“I love to eat, so anywhere I go I always try to find the best food. Plus I smoke big trees, so anytime someone has some (when it’s safe) I partake,” says SiR speaking to Tha Bravado.
Due to his short stay in the country, he couldn’t really explore some of the country’s best food, admitting that he was subjected to some Porto Rican food the night before.
In a crimson room that would make a great makeshift Death Row recording studio, I sit with the singer, producer from Inglewood just before his performance, with his bodyguards stationed at the entrance.
He arrived in the country Thursday and was out Saturday. This being his first visit on the continent, like most tourists who come from distant lands where African people aren’t in the majority, SiR was pleasantly surprised by the ubiquity of black dominance. “It’s really good to see black people in power, working together with white people,” he said.
He’s signed under Top Dawg Entertainment, which is also home to Kendrick Lamar, Shoolboy Q, SZA and other stars. Ab-Soul and the latter have in the past spoken about their frustration with album delays at TDE, but SiR says he isn’t concerned by that. “Everything happens in its proper time. I’m patient. And I trust my team, we don’t have to rush what we do.”
His music is smooth as wine and quenches the soul’s thirst like glass of cold water, on a hot summer’s day. It’s mind bending that he initially rejected getting into music having grown up in a home where everyone is gifted in the art. His mother is a former backing vocalist for Michael Jackson, Yolanda Adams and Tina Turner and his brothers, Daniel and Davion Farris are songwriters who’ve been in the game for a minute. “I definitely had an appreciation for music early on. Growing up in the church taught me a lot about music, musicians and I’ve always had a place in my heart for Hip Hop,” he says.
His appreciation for Hip Hop is evident in the music he makes, no better than the song Jay-Z from his debut album Seven Sundays. “I was in studio with the fellas and wanted to tell that story that way. I’m from Inglewood California and when I talk about ‘head down Bird, make a left on Third…’ I’m talking about actual street names of where I’m from,” he says. During his performance on Friday night, he sang Jay-Z over Jigga’s Girls Girls Girls which had the audience tripping. It fit like glove in hand.
His introduction to the music was through sound engineering, but he worked on his song writing on the side, which led to him writing for some of the best musicians like Jill Scott and Tyrese. “I was very unsure of myself when I first started writing, but I had great mentors guiding me and I worked hard to overcome my insecurities,” he says.
He jumped on stage Friday night, with a show of humility greeting the eager screaming fans in Nguni, “Sawubona” he said. Wearing an oversized top with stripes,that looked like a rugby jersey, with a Chinese collar, he looked comfortable enthralling the audience with his array of soulful joints. The backdrop was the cover of his album, November which brought much needed visuals on the simple stage.
There were chants of ‘we want more’ at the end of his hour long set, after he performed the two leading singles from November, D’Evils and Summer In November. It was intimate while simultaneously being a jump. A telling sign of the kind of music he makes, which can be dubbed new age R&B in how it fuses sweet harmonies and melodies with thumping 808s. “I just know my sound is true to me. I’m still evolving as an artist as well. Who knows what my music will sound like in 10 years.”
You’d swear he was about to be knighted at the end of his set, kneeling in gratitude to the audience for giving him their time.
DUE to his talents being slept on, not a lot of people know about Los Angeles soul singer SiR, who performs in Joburg tonight.
The TDE musician is in the country for his performance at this year’s Alchemy festival. This is the same festival that brought Mick Jenkins, Tom Misch, Anderson.Paak and Low End Theory in previous years. But unlike the aforementioned kats which have been on the Alchemy stage, very little is known of real name SiR Darryl Farris. He got recognition on the scene with his critically acclaimed Seven Sundays album in 2015, following that with an EPs, Her and Her Too.
It was through the EPs that he got signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, home to Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, SZA and other talents. But he had been a constant feature on songs of TDE artist prior to that. Earlier this year he released his album November which has produced the popular singles D’evils and Something Foreign featuring Schoolboy Q and has been mentioned as a likely Grammy nominee for R&B album of the year.
Here are just five interesting facts about the Inglewood lad:
HE IS A FORMER GYM MANGER
It explains why he’s quite buff uh? Because he comes from a musical family, SiR was surrounded by harmonies and compositions from a young age. This made him want to carve out his own path in life, doing something totally different from what he was exposed to. But his tenure as manger didn’t last that long thankfully, because we wouldn’t be exposed to his soulful sounds.
SiR IS ACTUALLY HIS REAL NAME
Bestowed by his Louisiana grandmother, the singer once said that his gran gave him that name because she wanted people to be respectful of his grandson when addressing him.
HIS BROTHERS ARE GENIUS SONG WRITERS
Daniel and Davion Farris are SiR’s older brothers who embraced their music genes long before SiR even considered getting into the business. The two siblings have separately written songs for Mary J. Blige, Joe, Jaheim, Trey Songz and Jill Scott among their long list.
HE’S A PK WHOSE MOTHER WAS A BACKING SINGER FOR POP STARS
After spending a decade in prison, SiR’s father got into the ministry thus making SiR a preacher’s kid. While his mother use to singing backing vocals for Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and also worked with Gospel artists like Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond.
HE’S AN ENGINEER AND HAS WRITTEN SONGS FOR OTHER SINGERS
After giving in to the music, he began doing sound engineering. But while doing that, he was also creating some music on the side, which received positive responses from a number of people. He wrote Jill Scott’s Prepared which is on her 2015 album, Woman and co-wrote two songs on Tyrese’s Black Rose album. He’s worked with Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder and Melanie Pheona.
He performs tonight at Victoria Yards and will be supported by local talent such as Rouge & the Brass Cartel, Thabsie, Uncle Party Time & Capital; P Kuttah, Akio and DJ Vigilante.