Their revenge is not to be ignored.
Coming off of an incredible streak of top-notch features, a record-breaking hit single ("Middle Child"), and more, J. Cole assembled his Avengers-like team, and with 343 invites, 1 studio, 12 studio setups, 4 cameras, 10 sleepless nights, and 142 songs recorded, brought to us a compilation album of 18 final songs, 34 artists, and 27 producers that will be remembered in hip-hop history for years to come— Revenge of the Dreamers 3.
The album opens up with a soulful sample of "I'll Be Waiting For You" by the Argo Singers that soon becomes the melody for the bouncing "Under the Sun", which features J. Cole, Lute (who shows out all the way on the album), DaBaby, and highly unexpected (and uncredited), Kendrick Lamar. Each of them completely eat this track, and whose verse is the best is debated still, months later.
The next track, "Down Bad", was released as 1 of 4 singles dropped prior to the album's release. It holds a fun, gritty sound as JID, Cole, Young Nudy, Bas, and Johnny Venus (Star MVP) glide effortlessly on the beat. I'm still ready to argue over Bas having the best verse, idc lol.
"LamboTruck" was widely disliked as 1 of the 4 singles due to its hook, but if you're a fan of hard, grimy southern sounds and the fantastical idea of robbing the heads of major labels to cash out, this song is perfect for you. Cozz opens hungry for more, explaining struggling finances and his scheme to get money. REASON floats into the track with an ever present appetite that leads into one of the most entertaining exchanges this year, while Childish Major expresses the necessities when "green" is the goal.
The fourth track, "Swivel", dominated solely by Johnny Venus and WowGr8 (formerly Doctur Dot) of EARTHGANG, is sure to send chills of the dangers that lurk. Johnny Venus seriously showed out on this album; all of his verses are memorable throughout the album. This track is immensely reflective of life being held by a small thread and warns to watch out.
"Oh Wow...Swerve" is one of two 2-part tracks, and quickly proves why being careful with such is so important. The first half, featuring J. Cole and the Zoink Gang (which consists of JID, Smino, Buddy, and Guapdad 4000), includes a vibey, simple hook and an eerily dark verse cascaded with bars about the darkness of life and food for thought. This entire half establishes an amazing aesthetic that is quickly uprooted by the 180 that takes place in the uptempo second half, "Swerve", which features an energetic verse from Maxo Kreme and a sluggish hook from KEY!.
"Don't Hit Me Right Now" is likely the first of few "sleepers" on the album. The track is an entire vibe, from start to end, with verses from Bas, Cozz, Yung Baby Tate, Buddy (another star on the album), and certified "Hook God", Guapdad 4000. It's perfect for background music and could just as easily passed as lofi hip-hop.
"GRAB MY GUN, WE BOUT TO ROB A WELLS FARGO / COP SOME BROADS, WE NEED TO FILL A WHOLE CAR LOAD" will be iconic and highly regarded for the rest of the participants’ careers.
JID, Buddy, Johnny Venus, and Guapdad 4000 bring life to a dull point of the album through absolute fun and pure energy directed towards the robbing of a Wells Fargo bank. There is only one issue with this track— if you didn't watch the Revenge Documentary prior to listening, you will NOT appreciate its presence on the project.
Eight tracks in and we come across the highly sentimental storytelling track that covers the different ways being "Sleep Deprived" can embody in our lives. Another hitting verse from Lute about the weight that has been placed upon his shoulders through life, Mez completely rides the beat and discusses the dreams that became real for him and his affiliates from years prior, DaVionne provides a healthy switch with her higher octave hook, and Omen expresses his love lost and the emotional tragedy placed upon him through such.
The Jay-Z "Girls, Girls, Girls" rendition "Ladies, Ladies, Ladies" features the tongue-twisting JID and OG-positioned T.I. providing brief descriptions of women they've been involved with and the circumstances of their situations. Lacking a hook, this track can sway between its replay value, however it is still worth the rhyme schemes, themes, and lighthearted tone throughout.
"Costa Rica", another hit single from the compilation, contains the largest amount of artists with nine features and is still an impactful listen. Every artist on the track shows out completely and Guapdad successfully lays another clean, energetic hook. Mez truly shines on this song, but nearly every verse is arguable from a listener's viewpoint. The track features Bas, JID, Guapdad 4000, Reese LAFLARE, Jace, Mez, Smokepurpp, Buddy, and Ski Mask the Slump God (as many heard from the teased video of them getting turnt in the studio).
“Roll up and pour you a drink up”, and vibe out to the smoker's track that is "1993". Buddy's opening lines "Since 1993, I've been smoking weed. Ask about me!" and his hilariously abrupt intrusions to the other's (Cole, JID, Cozz, Smino, and WowGr8) verses will forever be apart of the great moments of this project. A distorted Smino over the hook is surprisingly relaxing, and yet the boom bap instrumental keeps the pace throughout the fun ride.
"Rembrandt...Run It Back" is truly not talked about enough, as it's the second two-part song on the album. The first part, "Rembrandt", features Cole and JID who teamed up yet again for a sinister aesthetic packed with bars and flows aiming for the throne with no need for flaunting. Vince Staples enters the chat after a beat interjection that builds into the barely thirty second "Run It Back".
Attention Dreamville: We need the full thing. The intense amount of energy Vince provides, along with a new flow, is enough to definitely be wanting to hear more after his verse is cut short.
If you've been wanting Cole to truly talk his shit after him being labelled as boring all of these years, you're in luck. "Sunset" featuring Cole and Young Nudy is the perfect example of Cole taking on a braggadocious persona whilst staying away from "trying too hard” or “mocking the youth" slander. I present to you "Trap Cole". This song has an incredibly catchy hook paired with a style Cole had yet to utilize before and Young Nudy's flow & fluent “slime language” over two satisfying verses. Don't sleep.
The second of the four singles, "Got Me", is as sensual of a song you're going to get from the album. Featuring Ari Lennox (who dropped her debut album, Shea Butter Baby, a few months prior to the compilation's release), Ty Dolla $ign, Dreezy, and Omen. The vocals hit. The flows hit. Omen's lines relaying his attraction to a woman, describing it as, "Bottom of your shoes make a nigga think you Piru / Used to have the blues, but too prideful." are sure to hit while bumping in your headphones or speakers. The song is an overall ode to lovers having each other's backs, and though the story has been told before, it never hurts to check out new soulful reiterations.
"MIDDLE CHILD" was a surprising but celebrated hit from the top of 2019, adding a video to the single that went gold in a matter of weeks and platinum even faster after the video’s release. T-Minus on the beat and J. Cole just laying it out on the track is definitely still an iconic moment in Cole's recent stride.
The second to last track, "PTSD", which features Omen, Mereba (close collaborator of JID, EARTHGANG, and 6LACK aka Spillage Village), Deante' Hitchcock, and St. Beauty, includes verses describing the lack of peace of mind that is achievable in the world we live in currently. Through doubts, grief, dreams, fear, danger, hate, and more, each verse relays a relatable tone one way or another to the traumas we deal with everyday. It ends with a lighthearted chant lead by Buddy, saying it's "for the homies".
The final track, "Sacrifices", featuring Johnny Venus, Smino, Saba, and Cole, is almost unanimously held as the best track on the whole compilation and provides the perfect closing to the album. Johnny Venus, again, successfully becomes the soul of the track, assisting the stringed melody, as Smino and Saba further flesh out the sacrifices they've made in comparison to their current status and the reality of it all. The beat breaks and the muffled echoes of Cole's voice enters just before his verse. "You can't be everything to everybody,'' he states, soon stretching a tangent of the extent he wishes he could display his love, the difficulties that come with high status, an observation of the life he lived before meeting his now wife, and eventually revealing that he has another baby on the way. Johnny Venus closes with the soulful hook that fades into a calming quiet.
To some, album was underwhelming, and for others, it turned out just as good as they expected. Revenge of the Dreamers 3 fully utilizes all of its features to compile an unforgettable moment for hip-hop, and we can't wait until everything from those legendary artists gets released to the public to hear.