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10 of the Best Tracks From Dreamville’s ‘Revenge of the Dreamers’ I & II

10 of the Best Tracks From Dreamville’s 'Revenge of the Dreamers' I & II

In late December of 2013, J. Cole inked a distribution deal with Interscope Records, for his Dreamville imprint. The deal wasn’t announced until Cole’s 29th birthday, Jan. 28, during a concert at Madison Square Garden. Although the deal was inked in 2013, the vision began the summer of 2007.

The first order of business was to release a label compilation — Revenge of the Dreamers. Cole, Bas, and Omen remain as the only rappers on the project, a bit different from the collective we’ve grown to know.

Stream: Dreamville’s Compilation ‘Revenge of the Dreamers III’

The roster would only grow stronger the following year (2014). Cozz, Ari Lennox, and Lute would join the team. Six artists, six different tales, six different dreams. The formation of Dreamville is organic. As they gear up to release the third installment of the highly anticipated Revenge of the Dreamers, we’re highlighting the ten best tracks from Revenge of the Dreamers I and II.

10. Lute – Still Slummin’ (ROTD I) [Prod. J. Dilla] 

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Featured on the first installment of ROTD, Charlotte, NC-native Lute balances out nostalgia with the current day. “Still Slummin” samples J. Dilla’s 1999 track “In Space.” Story-driven, Lute narrates his cousin’s conversation with him while they work at a fast food joint.

The track was featured on his debut album, West 1996 Pt.2. 

“Yo what up, why you back bruh?
See you should be laying tracks with J. Cole and who knows
Maybe he sign yo ass
See I don’t know just how this rap thing go
From the looks of it you closer than most niggas that I know”

9. Omen – Motion Picture (ROTD I) [Prod. Omen] 

Omen’s “Motion Picture” is a dark depiction of what life for a dreamer can be. “Motion Picture” is an honest, detailed outlook of internal warfare arising from external issues. The track landed on Omen’s debut album, Elephant Eyes. 

“Now I’m second guessing every effort, every sentence does my breath need less inflection, am I being too reflective? Is such and such really better? Is my message even clever? I’m apprehended by this pressure, but shall I surrender?”

 

8. Bas – Golden Goals (ROTD I) [Prod. Jay Kurzweil] 

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Concentrated on bringing renewed energy to his people in Queens, NY, Bas has a goal to go further than he’s ever gone. Traveling, staying focused, and musing through different places, Bas raps, “And I ain’t got time for opinions to process. These days I’m inspired by me and nothing else.”

“Golden Goals” also found its way onto Bas’ Last Winter project. 

 

7. Cozz – Grow (ROTD II) [Prod. Meez] 

Dreamville pushes dreamers to stay motivated along their path. Cozz gives insight to his path on the track “Grow.” Cozz described the confliction of being a Christian but still in the midst of sins. Eventually, Cozz realizes that his vices weren’t worth the bigger picture of being successful; talk about growth. 

Featuring frequent Bas collaborator, Correy C, “Grow” is also a track on Cozz’ project, Nothing Personal. 

 

6. Bas – Ceelo With the G’s (ROTD I) [Prod. Ron Gilmore]

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Flowing over a Ron Gilmore-produced beat, Bas had the chance to have fun with pockets and shines a light on his rapping ability. Self-esteem is high and tunnel vision is locked in — Bas asserts his strengths.

5. J. Cole and Omen – Caged Bird (ROTD II) [Prod. Meez]

“Caged Bird” found Cole in the Ville mentality mindset. Can the caged bird be freed?

“Freedom’s just an illusion, that’s my conclusion
And if it ain’t, then how my niggas keep on losin’ theirs?
This goes out to childhood friends
that’s doin’ years
Prison tats on they
backs like souvenirs”

The frequent topic of young, black males being locked up is a narrative that most are sick of. However, not many want Cole and others to stop pushing the scope on the narrative.

4. Bas feat. KQuick and J. Cole – Lit (ROTD I) [Prod. Cedrick Brown and Ron Gilmore]

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Once again, Cole and Bas hit a home run. Cedric Brown and Ron Gilmore load the bases, as well, with the production. “Lit” is set up for good weather and energy. The track can be found on ROTD I and Bas’ Quarter Water Raised Me II.

Cole took it upon himself to produce the self-titled track of the mixtape. Cole’s tenacity and the fire lit beneath his lyrics has put him in the top-tier rankings. His dreams had lasted long enough, and now, he’s coming for what’s his — til this day.

“When that boy that the cops shot died, my mouth wide open from shock
Sick and tired of hopin’ it’ll stop
This pen the only hope that I got, I open up shop, and break out”

Cole pens for the dreamers who didn’t make it in order to see their dreams come to fruition. He writes for those who are behind walls; he holds the key to unleashing revenge against those who attempt to stop the dreamer.

“Lit” samples Miguel’s “Do You…

3. Bas feat. J. Cole – Night Job (ROTD II) [Prod. KQuick & Cedrick Brown]

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“Night Job” samples Jeremih and Shlomo’s “No More.” When Bas and Cole make music, it’s like a friendly competition. You can sense the competition and the fun in their verses while still staying on track for their purpose writing the song in the first place. “Night Job” is also featured on Bas’ Too High To Riot album.

2. Ari Lennox feat. Cozz – Backseat (ROTD II) [Prod. DJ Grumble]

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Featured on the second installment, Ari Lennox and Cozz put their best foot forward with “Backseat.” A sultry track with the perfect blend of R&B and rap. Both Cozz and Ari balance the energy on this track. “Backseat” can be found on Ari’s 2016’s Pho EP.

1. J. Cole – Revenge of The Dreamers (ROTD I) [Prod. J. Cole]

Cole took it upon himself to produce the self-titled track of the mixtape. Cole’s tenacity and the fire lit beneath his lyrics has put him in the top-tier rankings. His dreams had lasted long enough, and now, he’s coming for what’s his — til this day. 

“When that boy that the cops shot died, my mouth wide open from shock

Sick and tired of hopin’ it’ll stop

This pen the only hope that I got, I open up shop, and break out”

Cole pens for the dreamers who didn’t make it in order to see their dreams come to fruition. He writes for those who are behind walls; he holds the key to unleashing revenge against those who attempt to stop the dreamer.