You Know The Man Behind J. Cole’s Dreamville Movement?


Dream Come True

J. Cole’s right-hand man and Dreamville President Ibrahim Hamad is set on creating a music dynasty of the people

Ibrahim Hamad is feeling like a springtime Santa. It’s 12:07 a.m. and Last Winter, the debut studio LP from Dreamville’s lottery pick rapper Bas, has been on sale for exactly seven minutes. And here is Hamad scrolling Twitter for fiends anticipating the label’s first retail release. “If you can’t get that #LastWinter right now for [f]inancial reasons or you not sure yet about Bas… send me your email, I’m a iTunes gift you,” tweets the 29-year-old Queens native, who co-founded Dreamville with J. Cole back in 2007, announcing a label deal with Interscope in January. He’ll continue donating digital downloads—too many for him to remember—until the iTunes store’s fraud protection kicks in. It’s all part of the grassroots philosophy that’s catapulted Cole to rap’s most grounded superstar. “People feel emotionally connected,” says Hamad of his former St. John’s University classmate, whose third album is on pace to sell 300,000-plus albums first week with no marketing bells. “We understand the Internet but we also understand real-life consumers; we know how to speak to the fans.” The towering executive shares his business plan for dream world domination. 1. QUIET STORM J. Cole’s brand is very reserved. Because he doesn’t tweet or Instagram much, it’s more special when he says something. People have to pay attention. That rubs off on our Dreamville brand. 2. BORN AGAIN Aftermath is the label I’ve liked the most. Not only did Dr. Dre push Eminem; he let Eminem have his own shit. Then Em signed 50, and they pushed G-Unit. When it worked for Dre, that shit went all the way. 3. BAS IS COMING Bas has a real lifestyle with the Fiends—he wants to grow a creative marketing company. I enjoy pushing the artist and their movement, ’cause if the movement gets stronger, Bas gets stronger and we get stronger. 4. SURPRISE, SURPRISE Cole really wanted to do the Beyoncé [surprise album] thing. We thought about that shit before, but that’s probably better when you’re even bigger. That move was possible because of our generation of artists who’ve done that with mixtapes. Beyoncé probably saw the reaction online when we dropped Friday Night Lights, when Drake dropped [So Far Gone], when Chance dropped Acid Rap. But it was genius. 5. DRAFT DAY I don’t have a certain type of artist I want to sign, just whatever makes me a fan. I’m looking for a girl singer but it could be a fucking rock band if the shit is hot. I’m such a hard critic—if you can get me excited, I know you’ll get a majority of people excited. I want to build careers, not just something hot for now. —John Kennedy