Dreamville Records is an American record label founded by American hip hop artist J. Cole and his Sudanese-American manager Ibrahim Hamad. The label is currently distributed through Interscope Records, a unit of Universal Music Group. The label has signed Ari Lennox, Bas, Cozz, Omen, Lute, J.I.D, EarthGang, and Cole himself. Dreamville also houses producers Elite, Ron Gilmore, and Cedric Brown.
Rapper J. Cole founded the label in 2007
During the composition of The Come Up, Cole started his own record label in early 2007 with current Sudanese-American label president Ibrahim Hamad. Cole and Hamad met while attending St. John's University. Cole sought for an avenue to release his own music, while Hamad yearned to start a record label, prompting the two to team up to form Dreamville Records. Rapper Omen has been affiliated with Dreamville since the beginning, Omen and Cole met on rapper Canibus chat forum at age 17, where they shared music. Omen was also featured on Cole's mixtapes, The Warm Up (2009) and Friday Night Lights (2010).
The Dreamville Records logo has been since changed when the label signed a deal with Interscope
On January 28, 2014, at a show at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Cole announced that his Dreamville imprint had signed a distribution deal with Interscope Records. Attendees at the show received a flyer announcing the deal and a mixtape, titled Revenge of the Dreamers. On the same day Cole announced the signing of Queens-based rapper, Bas. Cole spoke with Billboard about the Interscope deal saying: "We've been dreaming about a label situation for years." "The deal's been official since late December, and we'd been working on it for a while before that, but it felt too important to just go out and yell it right when it happened. It needed a more grand announcement." Cole explained that talks with Interscope began when Joie Manda, Interscope president of urban music, reached out to him in 2013, Cole said: "I thought he wanted me to produce someone over there and I was excited about that, but then he told me that he really believed in me as an executive, a label CEO and a producer. A Dr. Dre to his Jimmy Iovine. He had the vision."
On June 26, 2014, J. Cole officially announced the signing of Los Angeles-based rapper, Cozz. Omen didn't officially sign with the Interscope deal until after his debut album in 2015. On December 8, 2015, Dreamville released a collaborative album titled, Revenge of the Dreamers II, officially announcing two new label signees, Charlotte rapper, Lute and Washington D.C. singer Ari Lennox. In an interview with the Rap Radar Podcast, Ibrahim Hamad broke down the self-sufficiency of the artists on the label saying: "I like letting them figure out what their path is. I look at it like, because we learned what learned from Cole being signed, what I like to do is ‘what is your vision, and let us help you’. I don't ever want to tell an artist no you can't do that, that's not fair to them.
On February 20, 2017 Dreamville announced the signing of East Atlanta-based rapper J.I.D. Dreamville announced the signing of duo EarthGang on August 31, 2017, the duo consist of Atlanta-based rappers Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot. Both EarthGang and J.I.D have previously toured with Dreamville affiliates in 2014, before signing to the label.
On January 6, 2019, Dreamville announced a 10-day recording session in Atlanta for the label's third compilation album Revenge of the Dreamers III, ending on January 16. During the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dreamville held multiple events scheduled for the weekend, starting with an exclusive limited edition merchandise pop-up shop, a Dreamville brunch, and a private concert featuring the artists on the label taking place after the All Star game. On June 12, 2019, the first two singles from the album were released: "Down Bad" featuring J. Cole, J.I.D, Bas, EarthGang, and Young Nudy, and "Got Me" featuring Ari Lennox, Omen, Ty Dolla Sign, and Dreezy. Both singles were released together as an extended play titled, 1-888-88-DREAM on all streaming platforms. The EP’s title is referencing the “1-888-88-DREAM” phone number that Cole used to announce the original Revenge of the Dreamers in 2014.
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