Don’t Sleep #18
Dreamville & Co. - ROTD3
It’s really difficult for me to pick a place to start with this particular album because there’s so much to unpack here. I think I’ll start with just how crazy the idea of the Dreamville session was. It’s unheard of to have a 10 day rap retreat where you invite over 100 artists and producers, consisting of Legends like T.I, Rick Ross, 9th Wonder, Ludacris, No I.D. and Swizz Beatz. In the same breath lesser known artists like Masego (one of my favorites), Saba, Gaupdad 4000, SiR, and Reason. It takes reputation out of the equation and makes everything solely about creating on a large scale. I can only imagine what some of the newer acts were able to learn from the Legends and vice versa. Me really getting into my bag of being an A&R in North Carolina only gets inspired to unite artists around here in such a way.
I named a bunch of talented artists in that last paragraph and didn’t even mention the amazingly talented Dreamville artists themselves. J.Cole being the owner of the label and leader of this talented ensemble handpicked the team and used his experience of being signed to one of his biggest influences , Jay-Z, to create a chemistry not many artists/executives ever has. First came Omen, signed in 2009 out of Chicago, before ROTD3 he released Elephant Eyes and seemingly taken a break from the game. Then came Bas, signed in 2013 out of Queens, I’m a fan of all three of his albums Last Winter, Too High To Riot, and Milky Way. L.A’s very own Cozz got signed in 2014 and dropped one of my favorite Dreamville albums Cozz & Effect and also Effected an album I’m ashamed to say I slept on till after ROTD3. The artist I’m least familiar with but will make sure to get to know , Lute out of Charlotte, NC was signed in 2015 has an album called West1996 pt.2. The Queen Ari Lennox out of D.C. was also signed in 2015 releasing an EP Pho and her debut album, which is a front runner for my best album of 2019, Shea Butter Baby. Cole’s latest signees J.I.D and EarthGang (Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot) had already established chemistry long before signing to Dreamville being from Atlanta and starting Spillage Village together. J.I.D’s amazing debut and sophomore albums The Never Story and DiCaprio 2 were early showings that the kid is superstar in the making. EarthGang released a series of EPs Rags, Robots, and Royalty under the Dreamville umbrella are also outstanding efforts that leaves me very anxious for their upcoming album Mirrorland. I broke all that down to show how diverse the label is when it comes to sounds based off where they’re from. The sounds of all those locations are very different and I think it makes way easier to have the session of this magnitude when you can adapt to pretty much any sound based off your personnel being so varied.
There’s something for everyone on Revenge of the Dreamers 3. The album starts with a record from Cole, Lute, and DaBaby. Under the Sun with a soulful sample from the Argo Singers I’ll be waiting for you, then switches up for Cole to just start snapping. Lute comes in and holds his own against his Leader with his verse. DaBaby’s verse had the internet asking if he bodied Cole on the record. I’m gonna go ahead and tell y’all I disqualified the poll because he said he’s selling gas like he’s jiffy lube. I loved his verse aside from that. The hook had a surprise artist that had me in the car going crazy when I realized it was King Kendrick, I’m glad they created that moment for the internet to go nuts over as a whole.
It’s crazy what you get when TDE’s Reason and Cozz cook together. LamboTruck is the two L.A. boys speaking on still being extremely hungry for more in this rap game. So much so the idea of robbing their label heads becomes fathomable. I love that Reason got the invite for the session being he’s one of my favorite artists out right now, There You Have It is still in rotation. It’s always dope to hear the really lyrical storytellers have fun on records. I wanna hear more Reason and Cozz connections.
Wells Fargo is a song I typically wouldn’t think I’d like and maybe I’m falling into the trap of their energy but when I’m driving to work my energy shoots up. Watching the Documentary seeing J.I.D, Buddy, Gaupdad 4000, and EarthGang going crazy and having a great time makes you really feel like you missed out on the greatest 10 days of music you’ve never had. Their chemistry is really awe inspiring and makes me wanna put something like those sessions together on a smaller scale for the local acts of North Carolina extremely bad.
There’s something for the people who like there music slower. Self Love is carried in by Ari Lennox and her beautiful, fluttery vocals. This record introduced me to an amazing singer Baby Rose, who spent time where
I reside now in Fayetteville, NC and even though I don’t know her I take pride in that fact anyway. Her style caught me off guard for a second in a good way because I didn’t expect such a low key from her but it contrast what Ari does so beautifully. Then to add Bas to this record shows there’s a great understanding of tonal structuring from these guys. Everything just sounds great as a whole. Definitely one of my favorite songs on this project.
The fact that J.I.D contributed to 9.4% of the 13,074 total words on this project feels like Cole understands that he has a Superstar talent on his hands. Ladies, Ladies, Ladies is J.I.D on some shit I don’t believe I’ve ever heard him on. Breaking down his encounters with women he met on his journey. T.I. rode this hypnotic beat and gave the young boy a run for his money. Showed us that being in the game for 20 years sounds like. They were a really great pair on this track.
Sacrifices is my song of the year so far. Johnny Venus from EarthGang gave this song life from the jump. His contributions were super soulful and organic. So much so I can’t help but give the hook my all whenever sing along, my mind goes directly to everything I‘ve sacrificed to make things happen for the betterment of my life. Smino sounds amazing on this track. Then Saba came in and gave me the same feeling I got from his project, Care For Me, it feels like when he got done his verse everything was left on the track. Cole was very much Cole on this record but I loved that he gave us a good peek into his world and his life on it. We usually don’t get intimate details from Cole on his current life details so that was super special. I’m inspired to create vibes like this with the guys I work with.
I feel really bad for not mentioning the Ty Dolla $ign, Ari Lennox, Omen and Dreezy record so shoutout to them for that amazing song Got Me. I know some of y’all are gonna have the thought of “you skip this record or that record” and that’s fair. There was just so much to choose from and I had to go with the ones that stood out most to me. For this album to flow as well as it did with so many creatives providing their essences is a great feat in itself. The team over at Dreamville are awesome and I hope to hear the other 124 songs created in Atlanta.
I wanna thank J.Cole and every artist involved in this project for showing that uniting as Creatives can result in history being made, with this project being the most collaborative No. 1 album of all time. Shoutout to my guy running the Hip Hop by the Numbers Twitter account for the stats used in this articl, thanks for giving me the blessing to use them. Thank you to anyone who gets this far in the article I’m blessed to have you.