5 Rising Stars From “Revenge Of The Dreamers 3”

Full Dreamville Roster (featured left to right)
Ari Lennox, Lute, Bas, J. Cole, Cozz, Omen, Olu & Wow Gr8 (EarthGang), and J.I.D
Courtesy XXL Magazine (2019)

Dreamville Records was established back in 2007 by North Carolina native J. Cole and his NYC bred manager Ib, with a vision of building a team of talented artists around the rising fame of Cole to give opportunity and creative freedom to young artists they enjoyed. Now, 13 years later the roster bolsters acts Bas, Cozz, Ari Lennox, Omen, EarthGang, Lute and J.I.D. For years Cole was known as a hermit, popping his head out rarely for features and product placements on other artists projects leading to jokes sprawling the internet relating to how he continued to go platinum without features on his albums. In his years hidden away between NYC, LA and North Carolina outside of Cole’s hardcore fanbase questions arose on if he had wasted his potential of rap superstardom by keeping things to himself and not letting his talented friends enter his world to influence and spice up his own music. Now in a new phase of his life and career, Cole and his team decided to open the doors to artists across all sections of hip-hop. For the creation of the third installation of the labels “Revenge Of The Dreamers” compilation series, “golden tickets” were sent out to rising stars and talented vets to congregate in Atlanta for a 24-hour 10-day recording camp that lead to a chart-topping album and multiple Grammy nominations. Thanks to this project, smaller names have become household ones, and a new generation of artists are getting mainstream exposure thanks to the open arms and minds of J. Cole and his team. Pop-ups from Wale, Westside Gunn, Bink!, Tay Keith, Big K.R.I.T., Rick Ross, Kenny Beats were just some of the (according to label head Ib) 343 artists and producers that came into the sessions, just to not even make the final 30 track “Directors Cut” version of the album. At the words of Ib again, in the wake of these sessions were 124 songs including the final the 30 with plans of being released on other everyone’s future albums or to never be released at all. Of the small army of acts, these are the 5 who created the most with their opportunity.

Photo from within the ROTD3 Sessions at Tree Sound Studios, Atlanta, GA
Courtesy Variety.com (2019)

Buddy (Compton, CA)

Best Feature: “1993”

Featured on 9 of the 30 songs across the record, Buddy ties for the most features on the record, and he isn’t even signed to the label. Stories have been told about the day Buddy (along with Smino, Guapdad 4000, and others) arrived at the sessions and how it created “an energy shift” in the studio. A mismanaged artist originally signed to Pharrell early in his career has over the last few years thanks to the late Nipsey Hussle and new label deal has been given a second chance of displaying his talents. He’s not known to be the best rapper in the room, though he was proclaimed “the Rap Camp MVP”, but always the creative spark to bring a carefree and memorable experience whenever given the chance. The energy shift is felt on every record he’s involved in and backed up by the BTS Instagram videos flying online in the weeks before and after the original sessions. With a new project expected to be released this year, along with rumors of collab albums with Guapdad 4000 and the newly formed Zoink Gang (featuring both Buddy & 4000 along with Smino and J.I.D.) the future is bright for the Compton entertainer.

Monte Booker (Chicago, IL)

Best Feature: “Passcode”

Known mainly as the go-to producer for rising St. Louis rapper Smino (who was also featured across the album) and a staple of the Soulection scene as a whole, Monte produced 3 songs on the updated “Directors Cut” version of the compilation having credits on “Passcode”, “Spin Move” and “Late Night”. Monte has crossed boundaries between glitchy electronic music, hip-hop, and R&B and these new tracks are no different. Smino has famously been able to bend words in ways that few before him have been able to do, and this style influenced so heavily by the beats from Monte have crossed into the more contemporary sounds ROTD3 has become associated with effortlessly.

Ari Lennox (Washington, DC)

Best Feature: “Got Me”

The First Lady of Dreamville and the lone pure R&B act on the label came off a banner year with the release of her debut album “Shea Butter Baby”, just to be capped off with features on ___ songs, along with one of the lone solo songs in “Bussit”. Across the project, she swoons and croons about loyalty, cheating, and love of all forms, creating a great change of pace during the hip-hop heavy adventure that is “ROTD3”. Trading hooks with West Coast legend like Ty Dolla $ign sliding in for a half-skit-half-diss-verse on “Passcode” between Mez, Buddy and Smino are just brief moments that show the versatility of a new soul queen in the making.

Pyrex (Baltimore, MD)

Best Feature “Costa Rica”

The producer behind the records hit single “Costa Rica” along with credits on 2 other records (“Sleep Deprived” & “Sunset”) has gone from nearly unknown to a rising star. Helped by his 21 Savage assisted producer tag that leads every record he put his touch on Pyrex has contemporary textures from his drum patterns and hi-hats, along with an understanding of sampling in a minimalistic way to leave room for vocalists to take over. The past year has seen Pyrex get credits on tracks with Offset, DaBaby and Lil Gotit, and after these hits many more to come.

J.I.D. (Atlanta, GA)

Best Feature: “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies”

One of the most recent signings to the Dreamville label, J.I.D was visible in Atlanta’s underground scene for years side-by-side with now label mates EarthGang and rising stars 6LACK and Childish Major as apart of the Spillage Village collective. Now after the release of his Dreamville assisted projects “The Never Story” and “DiCaprio 2” he, along with Buddy, has 9 features across the record, every time displaying his talent as a writer and word bender, bringing new styles to every song that he’s featured on. Whether it’s comedic skits with Buddy, Guapdad 4000 and EarthGang on “Wells Fargo (Interlude)” or rapping side by side with ATL legend T.I. on “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies” it’s easy to understand why J.I.D is seen as one of the future stars in this genre.