Revenge of the Dreamers 3: A Conversation

The promo run for Revenge of the Dreamers 3 was the most exciting one of the year so far. We saw a multitude of artists and producers post a simple picture with their name at the top and “Revenge” in a large font against a yellow background – this was their official invitation to be a part of the project. The album was recorded in 10 days from January 6 -16th which is a marathon no matter who’s involved in the process. We got a two pack of singles at the end of that month and then another two pack at the beginning of this month. The tracklist dropped on Thursday night July 4th and then July 5th at midnight…

The album dropped.

I hit up fellow Glosse Magazine Writer Lexiii Dee to discuss the project, our favorite tracks and how we felt about the concept behind it.

This conversation has been edited for clarity.

Paul: So, off rip, what would you say were your favorite aspects of the project?

Lexiii: My favorite aspects of this project as a whole was the fact that Cole went out of his way to allow many of these upcoming artists and producers from all over the U.S. to come to Atlanta to experience the sessions of creating and putting this album together; even if they didn’t  make the project itself. You rarely hear about rappers in high positions in the game that go out of their way to let the next young artist/producer get their shine. It’s a rarity and of course we all know J. Cole is a good guy but it makes the level of respect for him go up even more. Even if a person for some reason doesn’t like him, they can’t deny this man his respect for helping the people around him. What about you? What was your favorite aspects of the project?

Paul: I’m 100% with you on that. That communal aspect was so beautiful to see in the documentary and it only enhanced the same feeling throughout the music of the album itself. Sticking with that topic, I liked how his goal was to highlight lesser known artists even though some names we all know were involved in one way or another too. It takes putting someone on to a whole new level. I also liked the promo run with everyone posting their invitation to social media. It was simple, straightforward and obviously very effective. BUT, in terms of the music itself I liked how there was a variety of styles, tones and moods throughout the album. Personally, I believe for any project if there isn’t some type of variety the label of “boring” or “redundant” will come up easily and frequently. 

Lexiii: I definitely agree with you when it comes to the variety of the project. Each member of Dreamville bring their own unique style to the table, especially with the newer artists on the label being involved. It was also incredible seeing Cole switch up from his style that many of his fans love him for. Even before the project dropped and seeing the tracklist, it was interesting to see which artists were on there and how it would play out. Surprisingly, it was incredible and did not disappoint. It makes me happy just seeing hip hop artists that you would never in your life think that would hop on a track together actually make it happen.

Paul: Exactly. The contrast between his verse on “Sacrifices” which is the lane we expect him in with his verse on “Rembrandt” or “Under The Sun” just showcases his range. Not to mention the fact he’s on the latter with DaBaby which is something we thought we’d never see. Speaking of verses, what would you say are your top 3 favorite tracks right now? I know something like this can change easily so the emphasis is on right now lol. 

Lexiii: In regard to you speaking on the contrast between his verses, I want to also bring attention to his flow on “Sunset.” He really got in his bag and showed us another side of him we have not seen before. Cole taking on a more gritty, trap sound made me realize this man can take on anything. Also, who would have thought Cole hopping on a track with Young Nudy would make so much sense. The top 3 tracks for me right now off ROTD 3 will definitely have to be “Sacrifices” , “Don’t Hit Me Right Now” , and “1993”, in that order. Upon the first listen of “Sacrifices”, it literally made me emotional. That track is a tear jerker for sure. Just hearing the way each artist were spitting showed just how deep the song was. Earthgang didn’t miss, Smino didn’t miss, Saba is always on his sh*t, and Cole, for a fact, made the song to me. “Don’t Hit Me Right Now” is more of those light tracks that still has a punch to it. The standout for me was ATL songstress Yung Baby Tate and how even though her part wasn’t that long, the way she floated on there caught my attention that, to me, brought the whole song together. “1993” was insane. With the way everyone was getting their verses off and Buddy interrupting and being Buddy, it was a smooth, chill yet funny track. I was annoyed with the interruption of Cole’s verse because he was about to really go off. What were your favorites off the project at the moment?

Paul: Jeez wow, how could I forget Sunset? Smh. “Sacrifices” is my number one for sure too. I felt the tears attempt to form when I listened to Cole’s verse today and that WWE to Boondocks bar was great wordplay packed perfectly between all the emotion on that one. Of course Smino and Saba held it down too – especially Saba. Johnny Venus’s flow was interesting sonically but I’m still debating if it takes me out of the mood of the song or not. “PTSD” is next because I love the stories they all told and this may be unrelated but I could see Joey (Bada$$) on it too. The piano is just smooth. Only thing that takes me out of it was Buddy’s outro but I can look past it. Costa Rica would have to be my #3 because I loved everyone’s flow on that one and I really like the instrumental on it. In fact, I’d say I liked ALL the instrumentals – everyone on production snapped. The unorthodox ones like “Down Bad” and “Wells Fargo” were fantastic. 

Lexiii: “Costa Rica” was some HEAT! Honestly the singles they released were pretty good overall. I couldn’t get into the “Got Me” single for a minute though. It was something about the tempo that didn’t really do it for me. “LamboTruck” was hard as well. Reason and Cozz had very good chemistry on the record. Towards the end of the track, I loved how the two were switching off with the lyrics and added the part about robbing Cole and Top Dawg. You could tell that they were giving off bars but having a good time creating the music. Childish Major did his thing as well. Did you feel like he should have had a verse of his own or it was perfect the way it is?

Paul: Actually I don’t because as you said Reason and Cozz had perfect chemistry. With Cozz name dropping practically everyone on TDE and REASON’s verse basically starting like a conversation about Cozz then ending with one with him I feel like if anything had been added it would have just seemed out of place. That track and “1993” which you mentioned had that communal aspect we mentioned at the beginning front and center. However the concept of “1993” to was definitely a creative one and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it done again with a different group of artists. But aside from all these great things, personally the project was not completely flawless for me. I saw you mentioned “Got Me” didn’t do it for you earlier and I wasn’t a fan of that one either. I also understand the concept of “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies” but I’ve never been a fan of songs like that. 

Lexiii: I gave it about a 9/10 mostly based on the production end. Though the artists were a huge part of this as well, the instrumentation really did it for me. However, if I wasn’t viewing it from that perspective, I would give it a solid 8 just because I didn’t like about 3 or 4 records on there. Now let me ask you this, how did you feel about the decision of adding J. Cole’s single “Middle Child” on the project? Do you feel like it fit or should have been left for his own solo album?

Paul: Ah I knew that question would come up. So outside of the line “If it ain’t ’bout the squad, don’t give a fuck” and the bar “What good is the bread if my niggas is broke?/What good is first class if my niggas can’t sit?/ That’s my next mission, that’s why I can’t quit” “MIDDLE CHILD” just doesn’t fit the theme of the album. That single is literally about Cole’s place in the industry as an individual. BUT, because of his place he can do a song with Young Nudy as we mentioned or a song like Sacrifices and kill each one because of his place and ability to connect with multiple generations. But, also, it is the only solo track on the album and some may see it as selfish to only give the “face” of the label a place for a solo track – especially one that’s already gotten acclaim. Sorry if that wasn’t a real answer lol. I guess my conclusion is I can see why it would be there but I also see why it shouldn’t be. 

Photo @dreamville on Instagram

Lexiii: If we are looking at this from another viewpoint, maybe it was to help with the numbers. However, with the way they rolled out this album, it wasn’t needed. The promo itself already raised the anticipation. Personally, the track did not fit the project and should have not been apart but I see how you mentioned about Cole’s place in the industry and how he is able to connect with the generations and I agree. I wouldn’t say it seems selfish but I think it should have been left off. How did you feel about the duration of the project? Because I’ve been noticing many artists nowadays have been putting together projects that are usually less than 14 tracks long but not with this one. Do you feel like these newer artists have stepped away from projects that have longer tracklists like there were before earlier in time?

Paul: I feel newer artists in the public eye put out longer projects to help with streams and while it is a logical business move some people do not need projects longer than 14 tracks like you said. There’s going to be filler for sure for some of those artists. However, for this project specifically I feel like the one hour length is completely fine even though I think some tracks could be cut based on personal preference. 45 minutes to an hour is what I’ve personally come to expect so anything under that I’m somewhat surprised. Artists who make shorter albums generally believe in quality over quantity as we’ve seen this year. However, I believe I read they had over 50 tracks to choose from for this project? So the fact we got 18 as opposed to 25 shows just how hard the narrowing down process can truly be. I saw you gave the full thing an 8/10 earlier so I’ll follow and say I’m leaning towards a 7/10 myself. Definitely enjoyable but the standouts greatly overshadowed the ones that weren’t quite up to par.

Lexiii: Speaking of standouts, other than Cole, which artist on the project was the standout and who did you wish received more attention? 

Paul: J.I.D as a standout easily and I feel Ari Lennox should have gotten more attention. I understand the overall sound of the album wasn’t her sound but for being on two songs and personally only liking one – not a good look for her being she’s been there since the second installment. 

Lexiii: I completely agree with everything you said. J.I.D was literally in every single track and personally, I believe he is right under Cole in regard to the artists on the label. Not that the rest don’t, but he is hungry and really loves doing what he does and it shows. Another person that was a standout to me was Buddy. Other than what was on the documentary, Buddy was really on it when it came to the songs. His personality added so much to the tracks he was featured on, Ari definitely could have gotten more shine but with the direction of the project, I understand why she didn’t and it doesn’t take away from her at all. I wouldn’t say it isn’t a good look though because she did just release an album.

Paul: Right and I enjoyed the album. Guess I was just hoping to hear more and see her blend with different people. So…final thoughts on the whole album?

Lexiii: From seeing the way Revenge of the Dreamers has grown since it first became a thing is beautiful. Dreamville is not called Dreamville for no reason. It’s more than music. This group of individuals have worked hard to achieve their dreams and they are letting it be known that you too can accomplish anything you put your mind to. It’s inspiring and it pushes you to want to do better for yourself and those around you. Overall, the album was amazing and I am excited to see what else they have in store. Even though the summer isn’t over yet, this is definitely a Dreamville summer.

Paul: You’re exactly right. Not only do I have new artists to check out but, I know that they’re headed in the right direction and everyone will only go up from here. Thank you for talking about this album with me! 

Lexiii: Of course!