It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Really it shows how much things have changed in the game.
There aren’t really that many “crews” in the game anymore. This has a lot to do with how the industry has changed. Gone are the days of you being a “meh” rapper with the ability to ride the coat tails or the hottest rappers (looking at you Memphis Bleek). That is part of the reason that 8 years after doing my Young Money Team evaluation, we still haven’t heard an album from Gudda Gudda or Jae Millz.
We aren’t here to talk about any other teams though, this is about Dreamville. Dreamville was founded in 2014 right before J. Cole dropped his 2014 Forest Hills Drive. For the first couple of years they weren’t very active minus a few releases from Bas and Coz. This year though, it feels like they have attempted to make their biggest push via using the Revenge of the Dreamer III compilation album (I wanted to review this album, but reviewing crew albums is so hard). Cole used the success of KOD to turn around and start promoting Dreamville artists.
Let’s look at the roster.
J. Cole: What can I say about this guy? In my opinion he has 2 classic album, 2 classic mixtapes, and too much influence to accurately quantify. Lately he has stopped rapping over his own production as much and has tapped T-Minus a lot. Although I really love Cole’s production, it seems like removing that burden of having to do everything has only improved his rhymes.
Ari Lennox: Her name has been buzzing for a couple of years now, but in 2019 her song “Shea Butter Baby” found its way onto the Creed II soundtrack. Since then she has released her album of the same name and she’s been everywhere since. There is a lot of comparisons to SZA, but she has yet to have a year like SZA did in 2017. That might just be a yet though.
J.I.D: I hate when people say things like “You know rapper x? He’s dope, even better than Kendrick and Cole.” That’s why it took me so long to give J.I.D a real chance. I kept hearing how he was the best rapper since Jay-Z. When I finally heard him on Revenge of the Dreamer III, I was enamored! I went back and listened to his last two projects, and I must say yes, he’s overhyped but he’s dope!
Bas: Next to J.I.D Bas was probably the star of the compilation album. By no means has he peaked yet, but I think 2020 could be his year.
Earthgang: I don’t think it’s right calling them up & comers, but they aren’t stars just yet. Earthgang has a huge following in ATL.
This was a short evaluation, because all of these artists are actually dope. Revenge of the Dreamers III proved this. I do wonder how well they can sell when they get their push. I think both J.I.D and Ari can sell pretty well, but I do wonder if Coz and Bas can. Still no weak links on this chain.