5 Things We Learned From Dreamville's 'Revenge' Documentary
The highly anticipated Revenge of the Dreamers III arrives on Friday. Prior to the compilation album's release, J. Cole shared a behind-the-scenes look at the famed studio sessions inside Atlanta's Tree Sound Studios with the Revenge documentary on Tuesday night.
The doc gives fans a rare peek inside the creative process that meshed Dreamville artists and in-house producers with outside talent for a 10-day rap camp leading to ROTD3 coming together in organic fashion. There were even guest appearances in the 30-minute production from T.I., Ludacris, Rick Ross, NBA baller-turned-producer Chris Bosh and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The positive creative energy exuded throughout the David Peters-directed doc is reminiscent of what Kanye West set out to accomplish with his Dark Fantasy sessions in Hawaii at the top of the decade. If the appetizing four tracks that have already been released are any indication of what's to come, Friday should be a fun one for hip-hop fans.
Here are five things we learned from the Revenge doc.
1. J. Cole Wanted to Change His Perception as a Loner
Last year, Cole began to realize that the public perceived him as someone who didn't care for collaborating with others in the rap game, even if that was unfair because he would engage other artists in private. "When I meet other artists in the game, I really have great conversation with them," he says within the first couple scenes. "People don't know that because I'm so secluded in a sense, and I realized that."
"My whole career, I been in a room with me and at most a select group of people I fucked with," Jermaine continued. "I'm reaching a point in my career over this past year [that] I don't want to look back 20 years from now and be like, 'I never worked with nobody, I never had no fun.' So I had this idea, let's go somewhere, lock-in and invite a bunch of outside producers and artists to come fuck with us and just make this album."
Outside of being an executive in putting together ROTD3, Cole has been a man on a mission when hopping on other artists' tracks and absolutely murdering features throughout the first half of 2019 with ease.
2. The Sessions Breeded Natural Competition
While the Dreamville sessions were welcoming and a ton of new friendships were born, don't get it twisted, a certain competitiveness also filled the air of the Tree Sound Studios. Whether that was fighting for limited spots in the studio, or not having a verse cut from a potentially epic track, it was definitely a cutthroat environment to make sure your voice was properly heard.
"It's a frenzy. You gotta find your spot, whether that's writing or making a beat because there's so many people coming through and those spots get snatched up. Within 30 minutes they might all be taken," said Dreamville's Omen.
Dreamville co-founder Ibrahim "IB" Hamad felt that the sessions breeded competition, but in a positive way. "To me, it did a couple things. One, it created competition in a good way," IB explained. "It made people feel like, 'When I get my chance, I got to show out.' Two, it made people have to break out of their shell."
3. Buddy Could Not Be Stopped
Buddy's infectious personality made him the coolest kid in the room. Interviews following the sessions quickly dubbed him the MVP of the stay, even though he arrived about half-way through the week. Producer Nitrane estimated that the Compton native laid down about 20 verses within the first three days. "He's just been hopping in one room, doing a verse, hopping in another and doing a verse," he said. "[Buddy's] like a lightning spark. He just comes in the room and [brings] a much-needed energetic vibe."
4. Running the Operation Interfered With J. Cole's Creative Process
Being the party planner is often a daunting task, and you can tell organizing the entire operation initially weighed on J. Cole. He admitted that in the first couple days he was more worried about making sure everyone else was good, which then interfered with his own writing process when he'd go to sit down and pen some bars. At one point in the doc, Cole even turned down taking a picture with someone because he was so busy.
"The first two days I was fucked up and I didn't know why. I'd hear a beat I'd like and be like, 'Damn I can't write nothing.' I realized it was because I was wearing two hats at the same time. I'm in here on day one as an executive," Cole said. "My whole first day was trying to make sure everything was going well. When I would get a beat, I'd sit down and write and be like, 'I'm mad uninspired.'"
On a side note, it's dope to see how hands-on J. Cole is when it comes to his music, which shouldn't come as a surprise, as someone who is heavily involved with the production side of his own discography.
5. "Costa Rica" Was Made at the Very End of the Sessions
"Costa Rica" released on Monday (July 1) as the final offering prior to ROTD3's release later this week. The posse cut was quickly dubbed a standout due to its riotous nature, which features contributions from nine artists that include JID, Bas, Guapdad 4000, Reese LAFLARE, Smokepurpp, Ski Mask The Slump God, Buddy, Jace, and Mez.
Revenge shows the organic manner in which the track was born, as more and more artists joined the studio party and hopped on the track, which felt more like a team celebrating their championship win. IB then spoke at the tail end of the doc about how he was happy the sessions ended on a high note with the lasting image of Guapdad, Buddy, and JID in the booth going crazy. "It's a good way to remember the energy that was created," he concluded.