Album Review | Dreamville Records – Revenge of the Dreamers III

This album was released on July 5th this year. Dreamville is currently one of the most popular record labels in Hip Hop right now, and it’s mostly because of J. Cole & J.I.D. I don’t think anyone on the label is bad at all, but the only artists on the label that really excite me are uh… Well, I don’t know if “excite” is the right word. I check all of their work out—aside from Ari Lennox—but I never really expect to be blown away. I usually just get a decent or solid album. The only Dreamville artist who has ever really amazed me is Lute. West 1996, Pt. 2 is my favorite Dreamville project, and one of my top 5 albums of 2017. I think Bas’ best project is easily Last Winter, which has a lot of amazing songs. It’s a great album, but his more recent work has been relatively weak in my opinion. Cozz’s best work is still his debut album in my opinion. I didn’t listen to his 2018 album until like a day or two ago, but it was pretty good. I didn’t like his Nothin’ Personal mixtape at all though. J.I.D has some great stuff, but I don’t really think he’s that great of a lyricist. It’s really just his flow and voice that stands out. J. Cole is a really good rapper, but for some reason he’s just not that good at making albums. With that said, I’ve enjoyed all of them to some extent. I think they’re all pretty good aside from 4 Your Eyez Only, but his best work is still The Come Up in my opinion, which is kinda sad when you think about it. I don’t think he’ll ever top that with an album. EARTHGANG are kinda in the same boat as Cozz & Bas in my opinion. They’re good rappers, but I haven’t been blown away by their work. I still have to check out Mirrorland though; maybe that’ll be really great. Who am I forgetting? Is that everyone? Oh yeah, I forgot about Omen. I think he’s a talented rapper, although he can be kinda corny on occasion. He’s only released one project as far as I know, but I did think it was pretty great. I might check out that Ari Lennox album that everyone was gushing over on Twitter earlier this year. I’m not really interested though. Anyway, I thought the first Revenge of the Dreamers project was okay, but most of the best songs were just taken from other albums, such as Last Winter or Elephant Eyes. The second one was kinda great though. I liked it a lot. This project in particular was one of the most hyped up releases of 2019. I think they kinda shot themselves in the foot by promoting it so much at the end of 2018, and then saying nothing else about it for like 6 months. I DM’d Cozz at the beginning of June asking him where the album was. Needless to say, he did not respond.

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Anyway, they eventually dropped a documentary followed by some singles later that month. I was only really super impressed with one of them, but I’ll talk about that in the body of this review. Before listening to the full project, I was expecting it to be slightly better than the second album, so I thought it’d be pretty great.

1. Under the Son performed by J. Cole & Lute featuring DaBaby produced by Christo, Pluss & Nice Rec

I think this was a pretty good way to start the album. I love the sample-based production, and I think the first verse from Cole was really great. When the documentary originally dropped, I tweeted about how his flow has really improved recently.

It’s certainly evident from this very first verse on the album. I don’t think his verse was anything special lyrically, but I definitely enjoyed it quite a bit. I think the uncredited hook from Kendrick Lamar was pretty nice too. It was smart of them not to list him as a feature because people would’ve been mad as shit that he didn’t have a verse. I do think a verse from him would’ve sounded amazing over this beat, but after hearing the second verse from Lute it became pretty clear that they just wanted the verses to be from NC artists. Speaking of Lute, I think he did his thing, but it’s far from his best verse. I think Cole sounded better personally. DaBaby had my favorite verse, but it still wasn’t amazing or anything. I really enjoyed the song though. Nothing about it really bothered me. It’s a very dope track.

2. Down Bad performed by J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole & Johnny Venus featuring Young Nudy produced by Pluss

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This is the only single that really impressed me a lot prior to hearing the whole album. I think it’s an awesome track, but I have no idea why the hell Young Nudy is here. His flow sucks ass, and his verse is trash. Thankfully, it was short as hell, so it doesn’t really tarnish the song too much. Kemba actually dropped a remix of this track later on in June, and he killed it. I used GarageBand to replace the Nudy verse with Kemba’s remix. It’s available to download via DropBox here if you’re interested. I think the mixing’s a little rough, but fuck it. Anyway, the beat from Pluss on this song is fucking awesome; it sounds like a flip of Public Enemy’s Rebel Without a Pause, but it’s apparently not. I think J.I.D did a pretty good job with the first verse. As always, his flow was the best aspect, but the lyrics weren’t trash or anything. I like his hook a lot too. Bas actually snapped on that second verse. I remember being really surprised by how well he did.

Bassy been pickin’ up racks; raps comin’ clearer than Acuvue 2
And I’m back in the booth
Got ’em hackin’ a Shaq ’cause they lackin’ the juice
Niggas droppin’ the ball, they on Shaqtin’ a Fool

J. Cole’s verse was fantastic as well. He honestly might’ve had my favorite verse on the song. He killed it. Johnny Venus did a great job on the final verse as well. I wish he wasn’t credited as EARTHGANG on this song because I was expecting both of them to perform. I guess it’s not that big of a deal though. Anyway, I think Cole & Bas surprisingly had the best verses. The others were solid though. I think the song’s dope af.

3. LamboTruck performed by Cozz featuring Reason & Childish Major produced by Kal Banx

This is the first real dud on the album for me. I heard it prior to listening to the full album; I was really excited when I saw the features for this song because I think Childish Major is a really good artist. However, he unfortunately ended up contributing to the worst aspect of the song. That hook is fucking terrible. It’s the worst hook on the whole album. I don’t know why they let that shit happen. The rest of the song doesn’t really do much for me either unfortunately. I think the beat is decent, and the first verse from Cozz is solid, but it’s not enough to save the track from that abysmal hook. Reason’s verse didn’t really do anything for me until he started rapping about robbing J. Cole, which was cool. That’s the only thing that stood out about this song though. Nothing else about it left a positive impression. I think it’s wack overall.

4. Swivel performed by EARTHGANG produced by B!nk

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This is one of two songs on the album with zero non-Dreamville features. I think the production is pretty nice, and the performances from Venus & Dot are cool. I just kinda wish there was a bit more variation in Dot’s vocal delivery between the hook and first verse. Speaking of which, his voice sounded a lot more gravely on this song than it usually does to me. I don’t know if anyone else noticed. Maybe I’m tripping. Anyway, Johnny’s verse stood out a lot more to me, but overall the song isn’t really that impressive in my opinion. I do like it though. It’s not one of my favorites, but it’s still a good track. I fuck with it.

5. Oh Wow…Swerve performed by J. Cole & Zoink Gang featuring Maxo Kream & Key! produced by Hollywood JB, Bizness Boi, Keanu Beats & Lil A

When I originally read the features for this song and saw “Zoink Gang,” I said…

WHO?

According to Guapdad 4000, Zoink Gang is a super group consisting of J.I.D, Smino & Buddy. It seems like kind of a strange mixture of artists, but I won’t question it. I just wanna mention real quick that I think Zoink Gang is a terrible name. Anyway, I think the hook on this track is actually pretty funny. The way they nonchalantly mention a woman having a big ass was humorous to me. I think Cole’s verse on the first part of the track is solid, but that radioactive bar was uh…

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Swerve is definitely a much better song to me than Oh Wow. I think Key! sounds alright on the hook, but I’m really glad he didn’t have a verse because that dude is wack as hell. Maxo Kream killed his verse though. I loved that shit, man.

Go Go Gadget, toting ratchets, beam attachment on the side
I keep a savage that’ll blast it; my crash dummies down to ride
These niggas janky than a bitch; I do my shit up on my lonely
So I can’t trust you on a lick if you not Nina, Mac, or Tommy

Overall I think the track is pretty tight. I love Swerve, and Oh Wow is cool too. Maxo Kream is easily the best aspect of this track. I don’t know how much I’d like it without him. I really fuck with this though. It’s dope.

6. Don’t Hit Me Right Now performed by Bas & Cozz featuring Guapdad 4000, Yung Baby Tate & Buddy produced by Galimatias

I actually think Guapdad 4000 sounds really great on the hook of this song. Unfortunately, pretty much every verse on this track is very underwhelming. I was actually shocked when Guapdad ended up being the best aspect of the song. I think the production is very good, but I’m not really a fan of this track as a whole. I think this could’ve been dope if they actually put some effort into the verses, but they clearly didn’t. The “competition” that they kept mentioning while promoting this album was ostensibly M.I.A. for this song. For what it’s worth, I think Bas had the best verse, but that’s really not saying much. Buddy was decent too, but Yung Baby Tate & Cozz were both terrible to me. It’s a mediocre track overall.

7. Wells Fargo (Interlude) performed by J.I.D & Johnny Venus featuring Guapdad 4000 & Buddy produced by Christo, E. Dan & Nostxlgic

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I think this is one of the better tracks on the album, but I have to admit that the faux-British accent on the intro made me cringe pretty hard. The hook in which they’re all chanting together is pretty cool though, and I like the production a lot. I think Buddy killed that first verse too. The lyrics weren’t super impressive; it’s really just his flow that made it stand out so much. He sounded great. J.I.D’s flow was also kinda cool, but the lyrics were trash.

Oh my God, oh my God, on this lick
In the car twisted, come here, lil’ bitch
Suck on my dick, some of the fun under your sister
Come, come, give me some, tongue, tongue, get it done
Young fun, yum, yum, yum, I’m twisted

These are like Logic level struggle bars. J.I.D isn’t a popular artist to criticize though, so I guess that’s why he gets away with shit like this. Anyway, the third verse from Johnny Venus was pretty solid. The final verse from Guapdad sounded pretty cool at first, but it kinda falls apart as it progresses, which is unfortunate. I do like the song a lot though. I think it’s dope.

8. Sleep Deprived performed by Lute & Omen featuring Mez & DaVionne produced by Click n’ Press, Sensei Bueno, Jay Kurzweil, Ron Gilmore, Meez, Pyrex & Cam O’Bi

I personally think this is one of the best songs on the album. The production is great, and all the verses are great. I thought Lute’s verse was very good, but Mez snapped on that second verse. He had the best verse on the track in my opinion. That reference to the Commodores was stellar.

Tryna buy me a brick house when I get comma though
Money gon’ help with a lot of things, but not the trauma though
Had so many adventure times, we used to run from the jakes
To make it from Southside, we do whatever it takes

He killed this shit. I kinda wish he didn’t drop the generic “King” moniker from his name, but that’s neither here nor there. He’s still a very talented rapper. I’m just wondering when he’ll drop a full project. These Data Plan extended plays that he’s been releasing have been dope, but I’m ready for an album. I say this as someone who hasn’t listened to any of the other projects he’s released over the years. Anyway, I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying the hook from DaVionne. She has a really squeaky voice, which I think may turn some people off. I love it though. She also looks fine as hell in the music video. I was thirsty as fuck watching that shit, man. Fuck. I’m sweating now. Anyway, the final verse from Omen was also very good. It’s nice that the two most slept on members of the label—Lute & Omen—got a chance to shine here, even if they ended up being bested by King Mez. The Bird Box reference was cool. He also gets credit for referencing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is one of my favorite movies all time. That’s coming from someone who doesn’t really watch movies though. In fact, I actually don’t think I’ve seen a single movie that’s been released in 2019. Anyway, I think it’s kinda fucked up that this is Omen’s first appearance on the whole album. It’s whatever though. He ended up being on the album more than Ari Lennox or Doctur Dot, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal. Anyway, as I mentioned before, this is the second of three major highlights on the album for me. I think it’s dope af.

9. Self Love performed by Ari Lennox & Bas featuring Baby Rose produced by Arsenio Archer & Sensei Bueno

I guess since I said it was fucked up that the previous track was Omen’s first appearance on the album, it’s only fair for me to point out that this is the first of two Ari Lennox performances on this project. I guess she was busy working on her solo album at the time. Wait, did that come out before or after this project? I don’t know. I also don’t care. Anyway, I don’t really care for this track that much. There are things that I do like about it though. I think the production is fantastic. Ari Lennox has a decent voice in my opinion, but she really didn’t impress me at all on this track. Baby Rose has a really unique voice that I think most people will appreciate. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s not really good enough to make me like the song. It’s cool though. Bas’ verse was solid too. I don’t know… It’s just kind of an uninteresting song to me. It’s unfortunate that the two Dreamville artists involved in this track had my least favorite contributions. I don’t think it’s a bad song at all, but I’m not gonna be listening to this again in the future. It’s decent though.

10. Ladies, Ladies, Ladies performed by J.I.D featuring T.I. produced by Kal Banx

When I read the title of this song, I assumed it’d be trash. I actually don’t think it’s a bad song at all though. Would I ever listen to this again? Probably not. It’s an okay track though. I think the production from Kal Banx is pretty great, and I really like J.I.D’s low-key delivery during the first verse. I just wish the lyrical content matched the sonic atmosphere. It kinda puts me in the same mood as Chance the Rapper’s Nostalgia. I wish they went in that direction with the song, but instead they just rapped about all the girls they’ve fucked with over the years. It’s like their version of that wack ass Locationships song that YBN Cordae released earlier this year. I’d certainly take this over that track, but that’s not saying much. I don’t think either of the verses from J.I.D or T.I. are bad. It’s just not my kinda thing. I have absolutely zero interest in the content. It’s an okay track, but I won’t be coming back to it.

11. Costa Rica performed by Bas & J.I.D featuring Reese LAFLARE, Jace, King Mez, Smokepurpp, Buddy, Ski Mask the Slump God & Guapdad 4000 produced by Pyrex & CuBeatz

Costa Rica

This is another single that I heard prior to the release of the album. Obviously when you have a song with this many features it basically turns into people just saying “wow that’s a lot of people” instead of anyone really being blown away by a substantial performance. Maybe it’d work if it was structured like a cypher, but they tried to make this into an accessible single that you’d hear on radio stations. You can’t jam 9 rappers onto a 3 and a half minute song and have it be worthwhile. That just doesn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong; I like the track. I just think it could’ve been a lot better because most of these features were unnecessary. I think the Trap production from Pyrex & CuBeatz is pretty good. The first verse from Reese is decent I guess. His flow was kinda cool, but the lyrics were very weak. I guess that’s to be expected from Reese though. Nobody ever really goes to him for his lyricism. I don’t know why I’m acting like I’m super familiar with his work. I’ve only heard like two features from him, but he’s always just seemed like a generic new-wave melodic Trap artist. It kinda seems like Dreamville were reaching out towards some trendier artists for this project—Reese, Young Nudy, Smokepurpp, Ski Mask the Slump God, etc.—even if they don’t really fit in with the rest of Dreamville. Anyway, Bas’ verse didn’t really do anything for me either. His flow was very generic. I actually really like the hook from Guapdad 4000 on this track. I think Jace‘s verse was pretty good, but I kinda wish he worked on a different song that would’ve given him a bigger presence. He’s a really good rapper who deserves more shine. Mez killed the fourth verse. He might’ve had the best verse on the track. It’s really between him and J.I.D. Smokepurpp’s inclusion is another confusing decision, but everything I said about Reese applies to him here. I think one of my biggest issues with this song is that most of the performers had very similar, uninteresting flows. J.I.D, Mez, Buddy & Ski Mask are the only rappers on this track who really diversified the song in terms of cadence. I didn’t even really like Ski Mask’s flow though. I mean, he certainly stood out, but not in a good way in my opinion. He sounded really awkward and out of place to me. He probably had my least favorite verse. Buddy’s verse was pretty tight, but not amazing or anything. He did his thing though. I have no issues with his presence. With that said, I think this could’ve been a much better song if they pared it down to Jace, J.I.D & Mez with Guapdad on the hook, and just extended their verses. That would’ve been great. I think it’s a cool song as it is, but it’s a flawed track. I do like it though. It’s pretty good.

12. 1993 performed by J. Cole, Zoink Gang, Cozz & Doctur Dot produced by Elite

This ended up being one of the most fun songs on the album in my opinion. I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t make a music video for it. This song and Wells Fargo seem like they could have some very entertaining videos if they were done right. This track in particular basically sounds like a houseparty in the form of a song. I think the production is pretty solid, and although the hook from Smino is nothing special, he did his thing on the very first verse. However, I think it’s worth noting that he spit 6 bars and only rhymed the words “cup,” “up,” and “mug.” The second verse from Cozz was better in terms of the technical skill he was flexing. I think the actual content of Smino’s verse was more interesting though. I guess that’s not really saying much. Smino was just rapping about throwing up because somebody put ash in his cup, but Cozz was just rapping about having sex. I really like Buddy’s role on this song; he basically just interrupts the other performers on the song and tells them to shut the fuck up because he wants to smoke weed instead of rap. Doctur Dot’s verse didn’t really stand out much to me in all honesty, but it certainly wasn’t bad. I think J.I.D’s verse was great. I really liked the line where he said “I sling peen like a lasso.” It’s clearly not a good line from a lyrical standpoint, but the way he said it made it entertaining. J. Cole had a really good verse too despite its brevity. Again, this is one of the most fun songs on the album. It’s not my favorite track, but I do really like it. I think it’s dope.

13. Rembrandt…Run It Back performed by J. Cole & J.I.D featuring Vince Staples produced by Kal Banx & Christo

Even though I like this song overall, I definitely think it’s one of the weaker tracks on the project. I like the production, and the two verses on Rembrandt from J.I.D & Cole respectively are pretty great. However, the pitch-shifted hook from J.I.D sucks ass. Rembrandt is a cool song overall though. It eventually transitions into Run It Back, which is performed solely by Vince Staples. I think this part of the track is really dope, but the premature ending is too abrupt in my opinion. They probably could’ve fleshed that out a bit more. It’s still a good song overall though. Obviously it’s not perfect, but I do like it.

14. Sunset performed by J. Cole featuring Young Nudy produced by ChasetheMoney & Pyrex

Unfortunately this is the first song in a three-track slump. This is easily one of the worst, and most unnecessary songs on the project. The album’s already pretty goddamn long, so I really have to question why something like this was included. Why the fuck is Young Nudy on this album more than once? Do Dreamville fans really fuck with him like that? I don’t think they do. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. Anyway, the skeletal, generic Trap beat on this song does absolutely nothing for me. I also don’t really care for the hook from Cole at all, but I guess it’s fine. His actual verse was painfully average. The second verse from Nudy sucked ass. He just sounds like yet another Young Thug clone in the same bucket as Lil Keed, Lil Baby, Gunna, etc. This is easily the worst song up to this point on the album. It’s wack to me.

15. Got Me performed by Ari Lennox & Omen featuring Ty$ & Dreezy produced by Ari Lennox, MDBeats, Deputy & OZ

This is another single I heard prior to listening to the full album. I think it’s an okay track, but nah. I’m not gonna be coming back to this one. First of all, I’m really not a fan of the generic sample-based production; it sounds like something Drake would rap over. I think the first verse from Ty$ is fine. It’s certainly not terrible. It just doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not crazy about the hook either, but I guess it’s okay. Ari Lennox sounds a lot like SZA on this song to me. That’s not a huge issue or anything. I just thought it was kinda strange. If I didn’t know any better I would’ve just assumed it was SZA. They normally don’t sound very similar in my opinion, so it was odd to me. Omen’s verse was okay. Dreezy really outshined everyone on this track though. She completely stole the show. Her performance is really the only aspect of the whole song that stands out to me. Honestly, the song is boring as shit. It’s not terrible, but I’d never listen to it again.

16. MIDDLE CHILD performed by J. Cole produced by T-Minus

Middle Child

Ah, here it is: quite possibly the most overhyped song of 2019. I’m gonna be honest with y’all… I actually think this song is terrible. I really have no idea why people were losing their minds over this track because it’s boring as fuck. The production from T-Minus is the definition of mid, and Cole’s melodic delivery all over this track is way too repetitive. It would’ve been tolerable if it only lasted for like two quatrains at most, but he recycles the same flow and melody throughout the entire fucking song. I think the first verse is decent lyrically; I appreciated the subliminal shots at Kanye West. That’s legitimately the only aspect of the song that stands out to me in a good way though. Again, I really wish he switched up his flow and delivery because it gets old real quick. The sung hook is wack as hell too. I really hope he doesn’t use this track on a future album. I was disappointed when I saw that it was on this project. I don’t need to hear this shit again. It’s wack as hell.

17. PTSD performed by Omen featuring Mereba, Deante Hitchcock, St. Beauty & Buddy produced by Cam O’Bi & Kenneth Harris

Thankfully the album picked back up at this point. I think this song is really dope. The first verse from Mereba didn’t really do much for me, but it was solid. She sounds a lot like Smino on this song for some reason. I don’t remember that being the case when I heard her on past features, but I’m not familiar enough with her work to say whether or not she typically sounds a lot like him. That Deante Hitchcock dude actually had a really great verse. Omen’s verse was great too. I saw a lot of people losing their shit over the Deante Hitchcock verse, but I thought Omen’s verse was more poignant lyrically. I guess Deante had a more impressive flow. They were both great though. I think the production is really dope too. I wasn’t crazy about the refrain from St. Beauty, but it wasn’t bad. Buddy’s appearance is technically uncredited on this song, but I thought his contribution was fine. Obviously I don’t think it’s an amazing song or anything, but I do like it a lot. It’s a dope track.

18. Sacrifices performed by J. Cole & Johnny Venus featuring Smino & Saba produced by Groove & Henny

Sacrifices

I heard this song prior to checking out the full album, and it ended up being my favorite track by a mile. I think this song is amazing. The production is great, and the sung hook from Johnny Venus is fantastic. I love his first verse on this song too. His melodic delivery sounds really fucking great. The second verse where his voice pans from left to right is slightly annoying, but it’s not too bad. The two guest verses from Smino & Saba are both really nice, but Cole is the one who really knocks it outta the park and drives it home for me. He fucking slaughtered that final verse. This verse alone is better than anything from his past three solo albums. The song is fire. I have no issues with it. Even the second verse from Johnny Venus that pans from left to right didn’t bother me that much. I think this shit is phenomenal. It’s absolutely dope af.


This album isn’t good to me lol. I don’t think it’s bad though. It’s definitely a solid album. I just think it’s a bit too inconsistent for me to call it “good” personally. I certainly don’t regret listening to it, but it’s very flawed. I barely mentioned this in the body of this review, but this album is long as shit. It’s a little over an hour in length, so it starts to feel like kind of a chore once you get to the last few tracks, especially since that’s where a lot of the weakest songs are concentrated. I think the second installment is still the best Revenge of the Dreamers project, but this one is very slightly more enjoyable to me than the first one. This one’s kind of all over the place, which I guess could’ve been predicted given the unique manner in which it was composed. The way they promoted this project made it one of the most exciting releases of the year, and I appreciate them making it feel like an event. I think what they were able to do was very cool. I just wish the actual album ended up being a bit more focused. It’s really unforgivable that they only had Lute on this project twice. Same goes for Ari Lennox. I thought this was supposed to be about Dreamville, so it’s weird that people like Buddy & Guapdad 4000 got more shine than them. I feel like they’ve been doing a really shitty job at promoting Lute honestly. I know a plethora of people who didn’t even know he existed until this project came out, which is unfortunate. It is what it is though. I’m not gonna lose sleep over it. Anyway, this is just a compilation after all, so maybe I should’ve expected it to be as inconsistent as it is. I just thought there would be more moments that really blew me away. There are only three tracks that I really love, and I heard two of them before checking out the full album. I can’t say I’m disappointed. I am slightly surprised that I ended up enjoying this less than that Pivot Gang album that dropped earlier this year though. I was expecting this to be better than that. It’s whatever though. I’m still glad this album exists because there’s a lot of good material here, and Cole was able to highlight some up & coming artists, even if they aren’t actual members of his own Dreamville team. It at least blows that dull ass Beast Coast project out of the water. It’s just an okay album overall, but I definitely think it’s worth checking out.

Favorite Song: Sacrifices
Least Favorite Song: MIDDLE CHILD

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Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

C+
Grade: C+

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