While most Manhattanites were gallivanting around the city in elaborate Santa costumes celebrating SantaCon, J. Cole was plotting the bar crawl to end all bar crawls.
During a very late brunch, I happened to scroll through my Twitter feed (by the grace of God) and see a flyer for a J. Cole concert. I did a mini social media investigation, which I am embarrassingly good at, only to find that the hip hop do-gooder was putting on three surprise shows across the city for free. (Yes. FOR FREE.)
The Revenge of the Dreamers Crawl, as it is so accurately named, celebrated the artists of the Dreamville Movement and the release of their new mixtape, “Return of the Dreamers 2.” Almost instantly, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat were quickly flooded with #ROTDC tags.
He announced that he would be hosting one at DROM, one at at Cake Shop and a final show at SOB’s.
Since everyone knows to save the best for last, my friends and I decided to catch the final show at SOB’s.
After arriving, I assumed that we would crash head on with a mob of J. Cole fans, mid-riot, hoping to see their favorite rapper. Instead, what I saw was an orderly line complete with a designated line leader and a caboose.
We received one free drink ticket (since I drink whiskey now, I got a Jack & Coke), and a Dreamville wristband. We made our way to the very front of the stage and awaited J. Cole’s performance.
However, once the show started, he kindly explained that the purpose of the crawl was actually to showcase his artists. While I was looking forward to seeing J. Cole perform, I was eventually blown away by the talent of the Dreamville team.
This Chi-town rapper is no stranger to Cole’s unique tour antics. His “Dollar and a Dream Tour” appearance last year was well received by Cole fans. He is featured on “The Badness” from “The Warm Up” mixtape. Since that is one of my favorite songs in J Cole’s catalog, Omen has been on my radar for years. He’s one of Dreamville’s older artists and his time spent on the mic was met by cheers of familiarity. Fans were reciting lyrics to older songs and begging for tracks that the team simply did not have the time to perform.
Omen released his first album in July, titled “Elephant Eyes.” The 11 track collection features both Cole and fellow Dreamville artist, Bas. The artist effortlessly took over the Manhattan stage and clearly has a solid and loyal following in New York City.
It is clear that when Mr. Jermaine Cole took his time to search the universe for quality hip hop artists to rap alongside him, he did so very strategically. This West Coast rapper is clearly very talented, and his presence adds a different element to the Dreamville team. More than once he dominated the stage with a mellow, yet engaging vibe. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him pass the joint to his friends and continue with his verses without ever missing a beat. “Cozz & Effect,” his debut album, released in 2014. Like his fellow Dreamvillians, he is a lyrical mastermind but adds his own West Coast flair to his tracks on “Return of the Dreamers 2.”
Bas can often be seen alongside Cole while he is on tour. I immediately recognized him and was very excited to see him perform “Night Job.” I am proud to say that he did not disappoint.
Hailing from Jamaica, Queens, the Dreamville artist has a few mixtapes out and a digital download that was released in 2014. Bas is one of Cole’s best kept secrets and his fandom is on a steady increase — it will only get larger with his appearances on “Return of the Dreamers 2.” Bas’ onstage energy was just as entertaining as any lyrical battle, to be honest. He clearly loves the stage, and the crowd adored him.
First off, I should preface this by saying that all my thoughts on Lute may be slightly biased because he was raised in my very own hometown, Charlotte, NC. I spoke to him after the show and expressed how sincerely proud of him I was for being another gem from the Queen City. That being said, Lute is one of J Cole’s most recently signed artists. It was announced unofficially a few weeks ago, but with the release of the new project, this was seen as his official “coming out.” His 2012 mixtape was titled West 1996 and caught the attention numerous hip hop fans, and eventually J Cole.
Cole gave Lute a brief introduction as the newest member of the Dreamville movement, but wisely let Lute’s talent speak for himself. When I reluctantly stopped shouting out the Charlotte area code at the top of my lungs, I was taken by his undeniable stage presence the well-written verses of his songs. He has been dubbed the beat rapper in Charlotte by Cole himself, and I am anxiously awaiting what this talented MC is about to bring to the game.