Updated: Jan 28
The best part about making something great is continuing that legacy of greatness. We have been treated to some amazing collections throughout the decades. From Jay-Z to Lil Wayne to Migos, there have been some tremendous releases from artists showing how impactful an ongoing series of music can be. ProducedByTyler has given us two great albums in his The Way I Dreamed It series and the third installment is here. The first two releases feature a litany of talented independent artists telling their stories and limericks over ProducedByTyler's signature dance hall/reggae influenced musical fingerprints. The anthology celebrates the passionate things in life that ignite a desire to dream bigger. Does this third installment live up the expectations created by the first two? Let's find out.
"Spotlight Part 2", a song about about basking in the fruits of your labor, is the sequel to the intro track from The Way I Dreamed It (Vol. 1) and does what a great sequel should do, it builds on what made the first one work so well and takes the energy and turns it up just enough to push the artistic bounds but not enough to stray away from the core message or sound. Will Spliff brings his swagger laden flow to the table while Blk9 comes back to reprise his role. The two work well together as Blk9 has a track record of great work with ProducedByTyler and his inclusion in the intro leads itself easily to the next track where Blk9 shares the mic with D-Beezy Baby & 90sitcom on "Caroline". This track is a love song that struggles with a paramour that plays hot and cold. The smooth vibes are summed up well with two words from Blk9, "sugar and spice", because this song hits the feels like sweet comfort food. D-Beezy Baby brings his surfer-esque flow that rides the beat like a wave while 90sitcom demonstrates his storytelling skills that might get lost in his catchy cadence and attitude. Will Spliff and Blk9 are back together with the assistance of Felony Rio to deliver "Vacancy", a song about being at peace with the fallouts of love, and Spliff might have delivered one of his best verses to date. Felony Rio plays off Spliff well with his flow hitting in the spaces not used as much by Spliff and Blk9 gives the right touch to the song to hit the emotional undercurrents.
Blk9 stands out right away on "Ebony", with a striking melody and bravado. Kyu The Legend jumps in with an old school inspired flow but a slight R&B vibe mixed with Wiz Khalifa. Will Spliff outdoes himself from the previous song in a short sampling that is so much substance that you might want to rewind his part just to hear it again before you finish the rest of the song. Kyle James comes in with a deep and calm flow that reflects the sentiment behind his lyrics. Blk9 makes you hit replay on "Ca$h App", where he shows off his dynamic vocal talents. The scene of singing rappers is hard to pinpoint to one artist as being the creator but it is safe to say that Drake started the mainstream wave. There now exists, on that scene, a grouping of talented singers who can rap terrifically well and utilize it throughout their catalogues; Blk9 automatically arrives on that scene with this song. Bobby Baymont delivers an extremely catchy song with "Identity" that has more substance than style yet dazzles on the latter. His flow switches from one verse to the next in a way that impresses in its own way. The rhythmic bounce that he demonstrates on the first verse is flipped to a melody driven lilt. The foundation of struggle laid by the previous song allows the next track "Nov. 5th, 2020" starring Teek Hall and Earth Yarb, to build its message that feels like Killer Mike would approve of, touching on themes of sacrifice, love, and perseverance.
The next track "Key Fi Me Heart" features Blk9 and Dre Smuzic might be the best song on the album as it hits the feels with a melancholy note. Blk9 and Dre are a great combination as Blk9 uses his crooning to set up Dre Smuzic to kill the verses with her soulful timbre. The next track "Way Up" is a team up with Blk9, D-Beezy Baby, 90sitcom, and Kyu The Legend. It amps up the dance vibes a little bit but keeps it chilled out. D-Beezy Baby comes in with some old school infused flow while 90sitcom delivers a poetically delivered verse that you want to last four times as long. Kyu The Legend uses his range to switch his flow up multiple times in a short sampling while his singing helps his bars coast along the beat. Blk9 preaches about relationship turmoil in "Distance". Its a short song that captures the energy of the context of the song very well by being on the shorter side. You feel like its a love letter you are reading and it has an impact that lasts. This feels like a song that would be a lot of people's "hidden gem" on this album. Jay Wondah wraps up the album on "Congratulations", a track that basks in fruits of labor. The metaphors here are just as vicious as his tone and should be listened to a few times to fully appreciate them. Jay Wondah will make you an instant fan in this song with his aggression and affinity for impactful punchlines.
This album is stacked from top to bottom. The instrumentals are varied and dynamic, showing off a wide array of sounds and moods from ProducedByTyler. There is something on this album for every mood. There is high quality lyrical work done by every artist on this album, each adding their own flavor to the mix of amazing beats like a delicious sonically prepared gumbo. Overall, The Way I Dreamed It Vol. 3 delivers on style and substance, living up to the expectations created by the first two installments in the series as well as raising the bar for the next one. Well done.
by: Steven Sandage