Dreamville Records is an American record label founded by hip hop artist J. Cole and his manager Ibrahim Hamad. The label is currently distributed through Interscope Records, a division of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, a unit of Universal Music Group. The label has signed J. Cole, Ari Lennox, Bas, Cozz, Omen, Lute, J.I.D, EarthGang, and Cole himself. Dreamville also houses producers Elite, Ron Gilmore, and Cedric Brown.
During the composition of The Come Up, Cole started his own record label in early 2007 with current 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).
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.
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. EarthGang have previously toured with Dreamville affiliates before signing to the label.
The Dreamville Foundation
In October 2011, Cole established The Dreamville Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Foundation says that it was “created to ‘bridge the gap’ between the worlds of opportunity and the urban youth” of Cole’s hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. With volunteers, the Foundation conducts philanthropic activities, such as an annual “Back To School Supply Giveaway” to provide supplies to schoolchildren. The Foundation also launched a book club for young men and sponsored “The Nobody’s Perfect Writing Contest and Mother’s Day Brunch” for students. It sponsors an annual weekend of Fayetteville community events called the “Dreamville Weekend” that features a discussion with the Young Men’s Book Club and Appreciation Dinner and a Career Day panel of African-American professionals in a variety of fields.
In 2014, Cole purchased his childhood home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for $120,000 through the Dreamville Foundation. The home had been repossessed from his mother years earlier, while Jermaine was attending college in New York. His plan is to turn the house into a homestead for single mothers and their children to live rent-free. In 2017 NFL player Colin Kaepernick donated $32,000 to the foundation. The money will fund multiple projects for the organization.
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