For a good while there, Dreamville Festival felt like dust in the wind.
Announced a year ago, J. Cole’s plan, like a great deal of things, was trampled underfoot by Hurricane Florence. Sure, the fest was quickly rescheduled, but would it really pan out? With no precedent, would Cole’s exceptionally ambitious, years-in-the-making passion project actually ever be realized? Or would we see another Fyre Festival, crashing and burning and taking fans’ hopes with it?
After this weekend, the answer is clear as day. Dreamville Festival was a triumph.
From the moment the first performance begins, there’s almost no letup. By design, the fest is an unceasing torrent of spectacle. The performers rotate at a machine-gun pace, and it’s hard to get time to breathe — but hey, who needs to breathe when Saba is pumping life-affirming energy directly into your veins?
The Chicago rapper’s set is an early show-stealer, mingling dark, soul-searching tunes with infectious positivity. The dichotomy is a little jarring, but it soon becomes clear that Saba is here to move the crowd, and in that, his brand of hip-hop-as-soul-food succeeds unconditionally. His latest album, “CARE FOR ME,” an introspective masterpiece written in the wake of his cousin’s death, fills out most of the set