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J. Cole’s New Dreamville Project D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape

Last year, Tyler, The Creator released his album Call Me If You Got Lost, and he figured out a smart way to evoke a particular kind of ’00s rap-mixtape nostalgia: He brought in DJ Drama. Drama, whose Gangsta Grillz mixtape series was required listening for everyone who loved rap music in that crucial mixtape era, talked his shit all over Call Me If You Got Lost, and his booming declarations really gave that album a feeling. Today, J. Cole has done Tyler one better and just released a straight-up Gangsta Grillz mixtape.

The newly released compilation D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtapeshowcases the whole roster of Cole’s Dreamville label, but it works differently than past Dreamville projects like the 2019 compilation Revenge Of The Dreamers III. Instead, it takes full advantage of the mixtape format, with everyone from Dreamville getting chances to showcase their pure skills, sometimes over familiar instrumentals, in a low-stakes kind of way. With Cole’s Dreamville Festival coming to Raleigh this weekend, its timing is perfect.

Cole, who’s been on a real guest-verse tear lately, gets in some great lines on D-Day, and so do Dreamville rappers like J.I.D and EarthGang. Ari Lennox, the label’s ascendent R&B star, gets to do her own version of the Mary J. Blige classic “I’m Goin’ Down.” The tape also has appearances from non-Dreamville rappers like 2 Chainz, G Perico, Young Nudy, and Sheck Wes. A Gangsta Grillz tape feels a little different when you don’t have to go to a specific corner and pay five bucks for the slimline CD case, but it still hits. Stream the tape below.

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