Music Review: Revenge of the Dreamers III

The first spoils of the fabled Dreamville sessions feature J. Cole and his label mostly thriving in a collaborative environment.

he only person to rap on three J. Cole albums released over the last five years has been, well, J. Cole. “I’m reaching a point in my career over this past year where I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and be like, ‘I never worked with nobody; I never had no fun’,” he says early in the new making-of documentary REVENGE. What started as an empty gesture flaunted by a passionate fanbase soon became a meme wielded by his haters. Going it solo affords you full credit for your ideas and successes, to be sure, but the flip side of that coin is isolation. When you’re the only voice in the studio, or at least the only one that matters, the booth can become an echo chamber.

The Revenge of the Dreamers III compilation is an attempt to reconnect J. Cole with his peers. He seems humbled by his interactions with younger rappers in the wake of the abstinence-core of KOD and the schoolmarmish “1985 (Intro to The Fall Off).” He’s hungry for collaborative energy, to find a new sense of community that can both enlighten and inspire him. Though not always unified in vision, Dreamers III reveals new bonds born of passion, circumstance, and shared experience.

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