J. Cole’s Dreamville Documentary Shows Creativity At Its Competitive Best

Throughout the ages, Hip-Hop benefits from the ensemble studio vibe. That was the case when Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg rolled their Chronic. As Sacha Jenkins’ film recently showed, this energy made Wu-Tang Clan form like Voltron for its 36 Chambers debut. Such was the vision for Tupac’s unfinished One Nation collection. At the top of this decade, Kanye West made a hallmark album when he shared his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with a who’s who of peers.

J. Cole and Dreamville did things a bit differently. In the very beginning of 2019, the crew hosted an invitation-only 10-day studio session at Norcross, Georgia’s Tree Sounds Studios. Previously, Cole and his label used the Revenge Of The Dreamers series to showcase its talent. For ROTD3, the crew united, but welcomed others, even artists from proud squads like TDE, Pivot Gang, Grand Hustle, and others.

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In a just-released 30-minute REVENGE documentary (directed by David Peters), Heads get an insiders’ look at those 10 days in January. Cole and his team unveil their plan. The doc’ shows how the rooms within the studio used by Big Boi, Whitney Houston, Dave Matthews Band, and others created a sense of competition and urgency. If artists did not network and break down barriers, they would not make it to the tape—which drops this Friday (July 5).

The footage shows how an artist like Buddy, who released one of Ambrosia For Heads‘ favorite 2018 albums in Harlon & Alondra, dominated through asserting himself. TDE’s Reason, Saba, Smino, Guapdad 4000, Childish Major, and others are shown. Rick Ross, T.I., Big K.R.I.T., Ludacris, and other stars also dropped in, with results TBD this Friday. Additionally, NBA star Chris Bosch dropped by and is shown on the couch next to Cole during one interview segment.

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However, in addition to fellowship and networking, ROTD3 is an opportunity for new producers to make high-profile history. While hit-makers No I.D., Mike WiLL Made It, T-Minus, and others were in the building, some of the fresh-faced producers are making the final cut.

Dreamville can be deliberately low-profile. The video shows some of the dynamic Cole has with his newer artists, including J.I.D. and EarthGang. Omen appears, as does Ari Lennox, Lute, Bas, and Cozz. As evidenced by “Down Bad,” “Got Me,” “LamboTruck,” and “Costa Rica,” the collection of songs is an opportunity to brand the ‘Ville roster further. Some of those very songs are shown in the recording stages, including J.I.D. recording a standout verse with the beat in his headphones. J. Cole’s “Middle Child” is also shown in its mix-down. That song dropped in late January, with a symbolism-drenched video that followed. However, perhaps by inviting others, J. Cole created some accessory interest for his roster while forcing them to be sharper, better, and more competitive.

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More than five years into making solo albums without features, Cole admits that ROTD3 also allowed him to work with the peers he respects. At the onset of the video, the highly-respected MC/producer describes avoiding regrets at the end of his acclaimed career. This workshop-clinic very clearly excited him, and arguably the most creative label in Hip-Hop.