On “Down Bad,” one of two lead singles from Dreamville’s highly-anticipated Revenge of the Dreamers III album, Bas makes a not-so-subtle suggestion that his crew is coming for the throne: “Dreamville like Marion Jones on the steroids/Y'all niggas slow as a heroin high/Y'all had a year, y'all had a year/Y'all had a year, but you let it go by,” the Queens-bred rapper spits.
Since beginning the year with an exciting, much-popularized 10-day recording summit (now fondly known as “rap camp”), J. Cole’s Dreamville Records has stacked moment after moment in 2019. There was the NBA All-Star Weekend activation in February (which included a Cole performance at halftime of the big game), the first-annual Dreamville Fest in April (which featured the label’s full roster alongside 21 Savage, 6lack, Big Sean, Nelly and others) and the cover story feature in XXL, which dropped that same month.
Dreamville—made up of J. Cole, J.I.D, Bas, Cozz, EarthGang, Lute, Omen and Ari Lennox—is set to release the aforementioned Revenge of the Dreamers III, the third compilation from a label that finally seems fully formed and on a sky-high trajectory. Yet Dreamville’s moment is years in the making, thanks to the groundwork paved by a solid catalog of releases, from J.I.D’s The Never Story and DiCaprio 2 to Lute’s West1996 Pt. 2 to Bas’ Too High to Riot and Milky Way.
In preparation for the coveted compilation project, XXL provides a beginner’s guide to Dreamville’s music, corralling the best collaborative songs (each including at least two members of the crew) of the label’s discography. Dream on.
"Backseat"Ari Lennox Featuring Cozz
Ari Lennox gets sultry on this offering from her Pho EP, which boasts an appearance from label mate Cozz. Produced by DJ Grumble, the track helped take Lennox to the big stage.
"Caged Bird"J. Cole Featuring Omen
J. Cole yearns for freedom on this Omen-assisted standout from Revenge of the Dreamers II. Produced by Meez, this number finds Cole firing lyrical rounds full of introspect and clarity.
"Can't Call It"Spillage Village Featuring J. Cole, Bas, EarthGang and J.I.D.
DJ Khaled first teased this song on his Major Key album as a J. Cole track called “Jermaine’s Interlude.” This extended version adds verses from EarthGang, J.I.D and Bas.
"D/Vision"J.I.D. Featuring EarthGang
EarthGang joins J.I.D. on this free-wheeling cut from The Never Story. Johnny Venus and J. Cole concoct a spirited backdrop for the quartet of rhymers to spill couplets over.
"Dopamine"Bas Featuring Cozz
Bas and Cozz connect on this murky cut from the former's Too High to Riot album. Produced by Ron Gilmore, this collaborative effort pairs two of Dreamville's finest, both of whom turn in urgent stanzas that convey the stresses of life.
"Down Bad"Dreamville Featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EarthGang and Young Nudy
The Dreamville family connects on this heat check from the crew's Revenge of the Dreamers III album. Produced by Pluss., this rollicking sound bed sets the stage for an epic rhyme spill by Cole's lineup of henchmen.
"Fried Rice"Bas Featuring J.I.D.
This loosie captures Queens and Atlanta colliding overproduction by KQuick, with impressive results.
"Got Me"Dreamville Featuring Ari Lennox, Omen, Ty Dolla $ign and Dreezy
Ari Lennox and Omen join forces with a few heavy hitters for this single from Dreamville's upcoming Revenge of the Dreamers III album. Produced by Mdbeats, Deputy & Oz, this salvo tugs on the heartstrings and is the perfect soundtrack for drunk-dialing tendencies.
"I Need That"Cozz Featuring Bas
Divenchii cooks up the soundscape for this standout from Cozz & Effect, which finds Dreamville's left coast rep connecting with Bas. The pair turns in one of its stronger efforts to date.
"It's Lit"Bas Featuring J. Cole and KQuick
Bas and J. Cole ignite on this selection that appears on both Quarter Water Vol. II and Last Winter. Cedric Brown helms the boards this go 'round, turning in a guitar-laden composition over which Cole and Bas do their bidding.
"Knock Tha Hustle (Remix)"Cozz Featuring J. Cole
Trauma Tone provides the backdrop for J. Cole-assisted offering from Cozz & Effect. This serves as the first joint-effort between the two MCs and remains a definitive cut in Dreamville's catalog.
"Link Up"Buddy Featuring Kent Jamz, Bas, Guapdad 4000, J.I.D and Ari Lennox
Not long before rap camp commenced, Ari Lennox, J.I.D and Bas linked with Buddy to test out their chemistry. This Harlan & Alondra bonus track proves they’ve got a winning formula.
"Mama Told Me"EarthGang Featuring J.I.D.
EarthGang and J.I.D kick flows atop a quirky backdrop from the former's Strays With Rabies.
"Meditate"EarthGang Featuring J.I.D.
Elite helms the production on this electric cut from EarthGang's Rags EP, which finds EarthGang teaming up with J.I.D for a session of lyrical gymnastics.
"My Nigga Just Made Bail"Bas Featuring J. Cole
Guitars and percussion serve as the crux of this collaboration between Bas and J. Cole, who team up for one of their best offerings to date. Produced by Ron Gilmore, Hottrak & GP808, this highlight from Bas' Last Winter LP finds both spitters at the top of their game and adds to their list of collaborative efforts.
"New York Times"J. Cole Featuring Bas and 50 Cent
J. Cole originally intended for “New York Times” to reunite 50 Cent and Nas on this Born Sinner deluxe track. Instead, Bas holds his own alongside the respective Dreamville and G-Unit founders.
"Night Job"Bas Featuring J. Cole
Bas and J. Cole go bonkers on this luminous cut from Too High to Riot. Produced by KQuick and Cedric Brown, this subdued tune pairs the pillars of the Dreamville roster, who execute the track with flawless finesse.
"Nothing But the Best"EarthGang Featuring Ari Lennox
Guitars lead the charge on this EarthGang joint, which finds Ari Lennox layering her vocals atop production by Childish Major. Staking their claim for the finer things in life, Ari and EarthGang put forth this groovy offering from the latter's Royalty EP.
"Off Deez"J.I.D. Featuring J. Cole
Of the various cuts from DiCaprio 2, this J. Cole-assisted joint takes the cake, as the two rappers go hammer over production by Dro Fe and ChaseTheMoney.
"Premonition"Lute Featuring EarthGang
Producer Cam O’bi interpolates Slum Village’s “Tainted Love,” allowing Lute and EarthGang to share stories of struggle.
"Shea Butter Baby"Ari Lennox Featuring J. Cole
Ari Lennox phones in J. Cole for reinforcement on this single from the songstress' debut LP. Produced by Shroom and Elite, romance is in the air as Cole and Ari collide for this steamy salvo.
"Sweat It Out"Omen Featuring Ari Lennox
Ari Lennox landed a spot on the Dreamville roster after she blessed this Omen track about a rapper-fan affair. Produced by Omen, this standout from his Elephant Eyes album is an addictive number that finds the rapping producer hitting on all cylinders.
"Things Change"Omen Featuring J. Cole
J. Cole and Omen delve inward on this collaborative effort from the latter's Elephant Eyes. Produced by Ron Gilmore, this composition conveys the hope of a dreamer yearning for better days.
"Tribe"Bas Featuring J. Cole
J. Cole and Childish Major unleash the guitars on this selection from Bas' Milky Way LP. Featuring a sample of “Zum-Zum” by Edu Lobo, this breezy offering finds Cole and Bas toasting to the good life.
"Zendaya"Cozz Featuring J. Cole
Cozz lets his affections for actress Zendaya known on this J. Cole-assisted single from Effected. Produced by J. Cole, the vocal sample, lifted from "Abre Alas" by Ivan Lins, is hypnotic and adds to the track's replay value.