Dreamville follows up “Revenge Of The Dreamers III” with the explosive “D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape.”
Honorable Mention. Coming Down & Blackberry Sap
I loved both of Ari Lennox’s songs on this album; I just wasn’t trying to hear soulful music in the midst of some hard s**t.
Ari Lennox has become my favorite female R&B singer today (She leapfrogged Summer Walker).
5. Freedom Of Speech
Letting J. Cole simply speak his mind over a soulful beat will always be worth a listen.
At this very moment, J. Cole is the best rapper in the game. The funny thing is this: He still comes across as a regular degular dude. In “Freedom Of Speech,” Cole’s raps about finagling chicks and not depending on clout and money come across as real as s**t, to me. At the same time, his ability to piece his words together in a Godly manner is what makes him very unrelatable.
Is someone going to slap J. Cole for saying that he f**ked with Demi Moore when she was bald?
Holy s**t, my nose fell off as soon as I pressed play on “Stick.”
When it comes to mixtapes, I’m not trying to hear some conscience s**t; I’m trying to hear some mayhem! “Stick” is pure mayhem. Not only is the beat that powers the song on some end of the world s**t, but you get serious yelling from Kenny Mason and Sheck Wes. As for both Cole and JID, they bless us with organized mayhem, sounding composed but still ready for war in their respective verses. If there was a battle rap version of American Idol, I think Dreamville would perform this song.
3. Barry From Simpson
Who said that Atlanta rappers didn’t have bars!? In “Barry From Simpson,” JID and 2 Chainz put up outstanding rap performances.
“Barry From Simpson” is tougher than beating Super Mario Bros. without any mushrooms. Over a beat that a trap Beethoven probably made, both JID and 2 Chainz remind the world how pimpadocios, trill, violent, and smarter than everyone else that they are. While JID chooses to dissect the beat using punchlines you’re going to have to run back a few times and flows that are intricate, 2 Chainz relies on more of a hard-hitting/slick sound. When you combine the two styles, what you get is pure flames.
I love how Young Nudy plays 2 Chainz and JID’s hypeman in this song… (I’m more so thankful that they didn’t allow him to rap… No offense, but I don’t think this song fits his style).
The second options shine in “Lifestyle.”
“Lifestyle” is not called a freestyle, but it definitely feels like one. In the song, Bas and A$AP Ferg ignore structure and instead hurl out carefree and rebellious bars using a bunch of different flows, sneaky-good punchlines, and assertive lyrics. To say that the two rappers go off in the song would be an understatement (I don’t have much to say.. They both go off should be the takeaway here).
1. Heaven’s EP
Out of all of the beats in the world, I can’t believe that “Pipe Down” is the one that got J. Cole to want to rap again.
“Heaven’s EP” is powered by Drake’s soothing “Pipe Down” beat. Because of this, you would think that Cole would bring out his soft side, right? Nope! Instead, the Dreamville honcho hits us with clever bars that perfectly articulate how hungry he has remained after all of these years, how rough his climb to the top was, and how he deals with some of his insecurities. As expected, you’re going to f**k with the way Cole gets lost in the beat that he is handed, almost allowing it to dictate his feelings every step of the way.
If Cole isn’t on your top 5 list, your list is rigged.
SONG BY SONG RATING
1. Stick (4/5)
2. Ghetto Gods Freestyle (3/5)
3. Lifestyle (5/5)
4. Starting 5 (4/5)
5. Coming Down (4/5)
6. Hair Salon (3/5)
7. Freedom Of Speech (4/5)
8. Blackberry Sap (4/5)
9. Like Wine (4/5)
10. Jozi Flows (3/5)
11. Barry From Simpson (4/5)
12. Everybody Ain’t Shit (3/5)
13. Ballin in Newport (3/5)
14. Big Trouble Freestyle (4/5)
15. Heaven’s EP (5/5)
I am old enough to remember when mixtapes were only sold in barbershops and out of the cars of hustlers. Back then, mixtapes were nothing like studio albums; they were raw bodies of work that featured stolen beats, freestyles, demos, underground rap features, and bars galore. With that being said, this D-Day project is the closest thing to an old-school mixtape.
I wouldn’t say that every song on this mixtape has appealing raps, and that is what makes it great. While J. Cole, Bas, JID, 2 Chainz, and EarthGang are the rappers that drive D-Day to success, Lute, Cozz, Omen, and Reason are the ones that keep the engine running. In other words, as much as I love the verses by the stars, it’s the shooters that give this mixtape the grungy feel it desires.
Do you know how they say a team usually takes on the personality of its leader? Well, that is what happened here. Since J. Cole is a competitive, hungry, and nostalgic rap guy, everyone featured on D-Day follows his approach and lead. S**t doesn’t always sound peachy (I think a few songs on the album are a little too gutter and raw, resulting in some mundane s**t), but it does always sound authentic and like some s**t that mixtape lovers will enjoy.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.