How Dreamville hit the industry with their D-Day mixtape is something like organized chaos. Without a hint of speculation, they dropped a bomb on fans with a new full-length featuring the label roster. Not just any full-length, but an official edition added into the iconic Gangsta Grillz series. As there's never been an entire label GG mixtape, it's fitting for the stature Dreamville has made for themselves. Since the label began to grow a decade ago, they've become one of the most consistently talented rosters in rap today. The Revenge of the Dreamers series has been home to Dreamville's compilation projects, but D-Day is their moment in time. It's very few things that get more official in hip-hop than a Gangsta Grillz mixtape. Now, the label has their own in time for the return of the annual Dreamville Fest.
Most fans were alerted about the tape coming from a tweet with a short video, featuring cameos of various Dreamville members and an energetic instrumental. That high-octane background music turns out to be the intro of the project, "Stick". At the beginning of the song are these horns that sound like they're introducing a heavyweight champion. Due to the introduction, GG founder DJ Drama sounds like rap's Michael Buffer as he delivers one of his iconic rants.
Kenny Mason bursts onto the scene afterwards as the chorus begins and goes ballistic. By the time JID enters with his verse and the gunshot sounds pop off, the track is adrenaline central. In fact, a little too much adrenaline. By the time Sheck Wes finishes up his verse, "Stick" begins to feel like a rollercoaster that goes on for an eternity. J. Cole comes after with a verse of his own, but it's long after the original spark that kicked the track into overdrive.
EARTHGANG comes right along with an addition of their own with their "Ghetto Gods Freestyle". They're fresh off the release album of the same name, so it's likely the track came from those sessions. The Dreamville duo take it back to their hometown Atlanta, needing only a deep bassline and a snap to rip their show. Both rappers deliver strong verses, even guest rapper and hometown hero 2 Chainz. The minimalist, bouncy track is just another gem from EARTHGANG and a standout on the project.
As for Bas, he isn't a standout moment on this project but rather a standout player. Every time he appears, he's rapping like he's been waiting for Gangsta Grillz moment more than anyone else. The Queens rapper gets surgical with the pockets he hits on the wavy cut "Lifestyle" in stellar form. He also holds his own later along the EARTHGANG-assisted track "Jozi Flows".
Ari Lennox wasn't able to miss either with any of her Gangsta Grillz collaborations. The neo-soul singer is deep in album mode, but didn't pass up the opportunity to drop a couple gems of her own. The first is an updated twist on a Rose Royce classic with "Coming Down". The song details the longterm effects that substance abuse can have on the ones people love. Instead of feeling down when her man isn't beside her, she feels torn every time he comes around sedated.
The second song, "Blackberry Sap", is an absolute banger that's hard to not run back. On top of a chipmunk-style soul sample, Ari hops on and seduces the instrumental line-by-line. Sure, her arousing lyrics and alluring voice leave your ears with hot flashes (Hittin' them Mariah notes, Got the thing all in your nose). But it’s the pockets that she’s hitting in her verses and the melodramatization of her voice in the chorus that gives its je ne sais quoi.
There are a good amount of special moments scattered throughout the project. Zone 3 and Zone 6 come together as Atlanta spitters JID, 2 Chainz, and Young Nudy take turns on "Barry from Simpson". The West Coast affair between Cozz, REASON, and G Perico results in the dope, funky album cut "Hair Salon". Dreamville general J. Cole comes in as well with memorable appearances as well, delivering strong verses on "Freedom of Speech" and "Heavens EP".
The flaws lying within this album lie within some of these moments are due to the risks of the mixtape's nature. The mega-collaborative process that gave ROTD3 its acclaim doesn't translate as well on this project. It's not to say that the project is filled with weak points, as it's home to a lot of exciting joint efforts. It's just that a lot of them feel like they go on entirely too long at times. To a point that the organized chaos begins to feel like chaos that crashes and burns too fast.
Still, the D-Day mixtape is a fun offering that showcases the label's ever-growing talent. Each Dreamville signee got their chance to deliver tracks of their own and held their own weight. The same goes for the handful of guest artists that graced the project. Not Dreamville's most cohesive project, but it's host to a number of new jams that the label has to offer.