Project Spotlight: D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape

Christian Maldonado, Contributor

Ahead of the long-awaited Dreamville Festival on April 2 and 3, the label came out with a new collection of songs. While the festival has not happened at the time of writing, it is expected that most if not all of these songs will be performed. There wasn’t much promotion for this mixtape, but it gained a lot of excitement when J. Cole, JID, DJ Drama, and even the Dreamville Record Label’s Instagram page announced that it would be dropping two days before its actual release.

The mixtape features new music from all of the members of Dreamville, with well respected and long-tenured MC and music promoter DJ Drama’s voice all over these songs. As he did with Tyler, the Creator’s 2021 album, Call Me If You Get Lost, Drama can be heard exciting the Dreamville cast and their music while also talking smack at others who may oppose the group. This mixtape was the latest in his Gangsta Grillz series, which includes collaborations from legends of the hip-hop scene such as Outkast, Snoop Dogg, and 50 Cent. Drama’s inclusion on this mixtape brings recognition and credibility to the lesser-known members of Dreamville, allowing them to be heard by new audiences.

The mixtape starts with a bang. “Stick” by J. Cole, JID, Kenny Mason, and Sheck Wes have an energetic instrumental, with a catchy chorus being screamed by Kenny Mason and Sheck Wes. All four guys provide a memorable verse, with JID shining the most with his ferocious delivery and clever bars.

Another highlight of this mixtape is the performance of Ari Lennox on the songs “Coming Down” and “Blackberry Sap.” Both sound like hits, and Ari shows off her singing and rapping ability on both tracks. While it’s no secret that she is very talented, with her debut album “Shea Butter Baby” being ranked as the best album of 2019 by the Associated Press, these performances surely leave her fans excited for a new project in the future.

The mixtape also includes one song that many diehard J. Cole fans have heard before, “Heaven’s EP.” The song was released shortly after Drake’s 2021 album, Certified Lover Boy, and is a J. Cole freestyle using the instrumental from “Pipe Down.” In this song, Cole drops many humbling and gracious bars about his contemporaries, including Kendrick Lamar and Drake. He recognizes that their work and the music they release inspire him, even saying in the song, “Some people say that I’m runnin’ third, they threw the bronze at me.

Behind Drake and Dot…” The song also dives deeper into Cole’s self-reflection, as his lyrics show how he has grown up and sometimes feels like wealth and fame have made him forget about where he came from.

The 48-minute mixtape flies by and is very much worth your time. It shows that many of the secondary members of Dreamville are destined for future success and that the future of this record label is very bright.