After releasing K.O.D just last year, J. Cole is not letting time get in the way of his personal and label goals. Revenge of the Dreamers 3 brings together not only the entire roster of Dreamville artists, but a wide spectrum of hip-hop’s finest.
Dreamville put this album together between January 6th and the 16th of this year. That’s only 10 days. This was a great display of the abilities of everyone involved as all hands were on deck. With that being said, there are areas of praise, contentment and criticism, naturally. However all in all, this album adds to the greatness that is Dreamville.
The first important thing to note is although there is a wide variety of outside support on this album, it still sounds very Dreamville-esque. This seems to be a fairly normal attribute of record labels today. When you look at Dreamville or even TDE, their sounds across both collaborative and individual projects are pretty uniform to their distinct label. Dreamville has been personified and holds its own set of musical values and attributes which feel like an expanded, slightly more versatile version of J.Cole’s character. Frankly this sounds very similar to a classic Cole album which is not a bad thing.
My first criticism surrounds the mainstream rise of Afrobeats, dancehall and similar Caribean inspired vibes taking over the radio. This album may struggle to find its place on ones’ playlist. As elitist and pretentious as it sounds, it is the wrong season for this album. I would have preferred this to be a late fall release that allows fans to cozy up next to an open flame and reflect and reminisce on the fairly important words of Dreamville and friends. This isn’t to say the album should be adjusted to cater to the season, but instead the release date could have been pushed a couple of months.
Now let’s kill the suspense and confirm what everyone is thinking. “Down Bad” is the absolute best song on the album, with J.I.D’s verse taking the throne of best verse on the album. Bas, Cole and EARTHGANG also gave their best performances on this song. There is very little if any criticism that can be given to this track. This is pretty rare to find when so many talented artists are involved on a song. The more elements added to a song usually leads to an increase in volatility, however this track really had a perfect balance of beats and bars and due to the navigation of that elite space, this song has to be considered the best song on the album.
Ari Lennox is another gem that used this opportunity to solidify her position on the label. Although she was only on two songs officially, her presence brings a unique sound to the project. Ari Lennox has the vocal power to determine the ambiance of a song. This is a rare gift but one which I am excited to see flourish. I believe if she continues on this path, she will go down as one of this era’s great hip-hop contributors.
Then there’s “Wells Fargo”. The medley of JID, EARTHGANG, Buddy and Guapdad 4000 brought a whole different feeling with this song. Instead of meticulously focusing on the lyrics and production quality, this song reminds us to sometimes just enjoy the feeling that comes with hip-hop. (For an even better experience listening to this song watch the documentary to see how the track developed, no spoilers here, just one word “organic”).
The other difficulty with this album is the amount of superstars who worked on it. In an interview with XXL, Cole explained how the industry sees him as being introverted and not really willing to collaborate with other artists. He wanted to put that rumor to rest. So he invited all of hip-hop to get on this project. This includes legends such as Akon, Ludacris, T.I., Swizz Beats, No I.D, and many more. This list coupled with the hottest names in hip-hop today led to the first collaborative album of this magnitude. When seeing this list I was originally afraid of the oversaturation of superstars, which sometimes doesn’t allow for greatness. However, I was happily surprised.
After all of the invites, and the ten day legendary studio session, the final project’s collaboration credits included a whopping 35 artists, and 27 producers. That is a roster that has been rarely seen in hip-hop. In a time where, IG rappers are busy with beef, this collaboration showed the industry that through cooperation comes greatness. Thank you Cole for being an example to the industry.
Top 3 songs: