How The Seeds Of Dreamville Fest Planted New Culture In Raleigh

The early hours look enchanting on the city of Raleigh, North Carolina. The nine-hour bus commute from New York allowed plenty of J. Cole’s lyrics to flow through my headphones, including the poignant reminder of faith and ambition from 2014 Forest Hills Drive standout track, “January 28th.” “If you believe in God/ one things for sure/If you ain't aim too high, Then you aim too low.” As the moderate water vapor filled the brisk air in the 5 a.m. hour, the ambition of that song would later translate to a joyous hymn of harmony at the inaugural Dreamville Festival.

It’s not the only festival to excite the college town as KIX 102.9, Carolina's Greatest Hits radio station ran an ad for the city’s upcoming Midtown Music Festival. Promises of hip-hop dancers and stilt walkers in May might make residents’ hearts smile, but what embarked on the city hours later would serve as a family reunion for thousands of J.Cole’s fans and a new identity for the cozy city.

Dreamville Festival was born three years ago with Cole, label creative director Adam Rodney, label president Ibrahim “IB” Hamad and ScoreMore president Sascha Stone Guttfreund meeting with city leaders to secure Dorothea Dix Park as their foundation for the event that would later welcome 40,000 people from across the country.

“We knew that North Carolina was a prime location for a festival,” Hamad tells VIBE. “There's nothing like this kind of magnitude there.” Dreamville executive Derick Okolie also explained the method in not only setting up Raleigh as a hub for Dreamville fans but an area where artists can thrive in their craft.

“It was important for Cole,” he said. “Cole always talks about how you meet a lot of great talent from ‘Carolina, whether it's musicians but also creatives as a whole. He always said he ran to New York to do [music] because he thought he couldn't do it here in ‘Carolina, and he might've been right. What he wants to do now is turn it around and give the next Cole, the next Bas, the next J.I.D, the next Ari Lennox the opportunity to come here, stay here and work here; you can find us and we can find you.”

It’s not a lost idea that artists are taking a liking to the festival space. Fellow melanin-driven events like Tyler The Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, The Roots Picnic, Childish Gambino’s immersive PHAROS experience and Jay-Z’s Made In America have provided successful blueprints for how artists can lure day one fans into trekking across the country for a memorable show. The difference in the “For Us By Us” landscape is Cole’s ability to make Dreamville Fest an honest gathering for his wide-ranging fans.

Raleigh’s cultural footprint has always been rooted in advancement. After the Civil War, the city formed its scholarly identity with Shaw University, one of the oldest historically black colleges, in 1865. Many institutions followed after like Saint Augustine and North Carolina State University, known widely for its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program.

Dreamville’s injection of hip-hop culture leaves visitors more inclined to stick around. With slick precision, the city’s personality has shifted from a traditional college town to a city where youth are inspired to look beyond the thick forests and see an opportunity for their own wildest dreams. Just a glimpse at our footage captured with the Samsung Galaxy 10+ (video above) shows this.

With Raleigh in destination conversations with other cities like Houston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, the area now has an opportunity to provide cultural and economic wealth to its residents. Here are just some of the coordinators, fans, and artists who made it happen.


Bringing Dreamville Festival’s Communal Vision To Life

Derick Okolie, Head of Strategy and Marketing For Dreamville

We always looked at Dreamville as a state of mind or a community rather than an actual tangible place. I've been going to EDM Festivals and all these big festivals and just thought, “How come we can't do this?” And today, we can put our Dreamville flag in the ground and be like, “This is Dreamville Fest, pull up,” and 40,000 kids did which is awesome.

We care. That's the bottom line. Of course, you want to make money in anything you do in business but that's not the driver. We're not charging a $1,000 for tickets or shoving the partners down your throat to make an extra dollar. Cole cares. I'm a snitch but Cole is watching the livestream like “You need to fix this, you need to fix that” from his hotel. Homie cares.

Adam Rodney, Dreamville Creative Director

The real advantage to an artist-driven festival is that you're being an ambassador for this place, this entity you're creating. No knock to those other festivals but this isn’t a corporate thing. We wanted to make this a homecoming for our fans and family and that's special.

Ibrahim “IB” Hamad, Dreamville President

We thought if we can do it right, people would come every year since they're aware of what we're bringing as far as, curation and believing that we would put together the best event, lineup, and concert together for them.

You can drive here from Atlanta, Louisville, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc. so it's a perfect location right there in front of that Interstate 95. People are treating it like a getaway and are excited to come to North Carolina and it's great. With Cole being from North Carolina, being able to bring something there, that's exciting.

Local Fans And Beyond Catch A Glimpse Of A Hometown Hero

Miya “YaYa” Morant, 19
Hometown: Durham, North Carolina

I saw a lot of familiar faces whether it was from my city (Bull City) or people I saw at other Cole concerts. It was definitely a Dreamville family reunion. I didn’t even wanna leave when it was over. It was maybe over 40,000 people there and not a stranger in sight, all love. Every artist showed out especially J.I.D., he really shocked me with his performance.

The whole crowd was going crazy. Watching Cole up on stage and seeing how many people were out there supporting made me tear up a little. I’ve been following Cole since a jit and seeing how big he’s become and witnessing the movement he started made me so proud! I definitely got my money’s worth.

Parrish Mitchell, 25
Hometown: Queens, New York
Festival Ambassador

Sascha Stone Guttfreund got me this gig when I attended JMBLYA in Texas last year. It was fun yet emotional since we lost one of our brothers Hassan last week. He was one of the biggest fans the world had to offer so I made sure I celebrated for him. As a fan, the festival felt like a reunion since a lot of us fans grew up together. We’ve seen each other graduate, get real adult jobs and chase our dreams.

Eugene Vernikov, 27
Web Developer
Born in Ukraine, raised in Brooklyn, NY

I hopped on a discount bus from Canal Street in Manhattan and got there on time and in haste. I thought everyone was friendly and open. To see him perform at a maiden venue located near his hometown is simply a recipe for magic. And that's really what the event ended up being...pure magic.

I think with some infrastructure adjustments, Dreamville Festival (which they should rename DreamFest since it's a dream of an event) could be the next destination for music lovers anywhere, the next OVO Fest or Coachella. It could expand and grow along with the city. That would be amazing!

Sheena Simpkins, 29
Born in New York, resides in Raleigh

I was inspired to attend Dreamville Festival because J. Cole is one of my fiancé Roshane’s favorite artists. I purchased these tickets for his birthday. It was also perfect that it was in Raleigh and we didn’t have to travel far. Roshane felt like it was a family reunion because he saw a lot of his friends and people he knew from college since he went to undergrad here at NC State. Beside our feet hurting and going numb, we really enjoyed the festival.

Raleigh has grown tremendously over the last few years and it’s been a blessing to the original residents that grew up here because there wasn’t too much to do 10-15 years ago. Most residents of Raleigh have relocated here from out of state due to education, jobs, and cost of living. The festival was a great addition to the fast-growing city. For Dreamville to be here was a big deal and for J. Cole to come back home to North Carolina to put this together was greatly appreciated by most North Carolina residents. As residents of Raleigh, we appreciate it because we want more concerts, festivals, and tours in this city. We’re both from New York City so the more things to do the better. We would definitely support another one.

Dreamville’s Random Acts Of Blackness

Omen, Dreamville Artist

In a sense, I've been on a hiatus with my music so it's like I wasn't sure if people were going to come to the set. Seeing tons of people out there allowed the nerves to go away. They knew the words to my songs and I can tell a lot of people were here to see me. I've seen people in the crowd that have been coming to shows for years, where I know them and they've become supporters so it's a dope moment for everybody. As an adult, my festival experience was seeing Jay-Z. I've never seen a more commanding performance. To even experience a glimpse of that today was amazing.

Ari Lennox, Dreamville Artist

It feels legendary. It's just so amazing to be black and I'm so happy to be a part of Cole's black a** lineup. He's just great and I'm proud of his black self and proud of Dreamville's black self and the festival is just great for blackness. We're just killing it. I feel great to be a part of this as a woman and I can represent for the natural ladies, so I feel lucky. The world needs to see that there are real fans of genuine real hip-hop and R&B and I was just so happy that there's proof that there are 40,000 people here.

I think there's gonna be more people next year once the word gets out about how lit this was. How chocolate it was. There are so many beautiful people here and if you're looking for a man or a woman you can come here and change your life, get smashed and it would be a beautiful thing to indulge in.

Derick Okolie, Head of Strategy and Marketing For Dreamville

Honestly, if you're one of the 40,000 people at this festival, this is the guy you should thank because Adam really put in the work. We had to meet with the mayor, city councilman, vendors, etc. When was the last time in North Carolina they let 40,000 hip-hop fans pull up for a festival? That doesn't happen in many places. You're not gonna be able to get a hip-hop rap crowd in one place and it be smooth. No fights, no nothing, that doesn't happen.

Adam Rodney, Dreamville Creative Director

I would say it was just a thought, just an idea. There are all these things like working in music and working with creatives that you wanna get done and a festival, a place where we could bring all of our fans together, was always something we wanted to do here in North Carolina and bring it back to where it all started. We always wanted to have this homecoming moment.

Dreamville’s Economic Impact For Raleigh

Celestine Stamper, 55
Hometown: Raleigh-Durham, NC
Uber Driver

There were massive amounts of people walking, riding scooters, and being dropped off by Uber, Lyft and family members to the point where I couldn’t get close to the venue. I’m from here and I have NEVER seen such a wonderful successful production put on in the city of Raleigh before.

The festival did a number of things for the city: it dumped money into the economy, it put life back into Dorothea Dix Park, and most importantly it showed the city that more than 40,000 people can come together and fellowship and have a good time without incident.

Dreamville has been the talk here in the Triangle. It was on the news for days after it was over. My 75-year-old mother called me talking about Dreamville because she saw it on the news. In addition to the news, I heard on the radio that Dreamville is going down in the city of Raleigh’s history as the largest and successful festival in the history of the city. Dream on J. Cole, dream on.

Adam Rodney, Dreamville Creative Director 

All the vendors are local whether it be the city or the county or the state. We have partnerships with the vendors in terms of merch, we have our own festival beer that's brewed here. We worked with the brewery to create. We're keeping it kind of home. It was important for the city.

Derick Okolie, Head of Strategy and Marketing For Dreamville

My favorite thing about Dreamville is you know, whether it be a Dreamville hoodie, a Fiends hoodie, or a J.I.D., Earthgang whatever it is, you're putting on a flag and saying, “I'm part of the family,” and whether you're an artist at Dreamville or you're filming Dreamville, these kids know who you are and they're like “Oh, Scott I love the work you did” or “Yo Shades, thank you so much, keep going.”

They treat me like I'm somebody and they love that we gave them this opportunity to meet other people and be part of something bigger than just themselves and that trickles down from the top. Cole set the tone at Dreamville and we fall in line because it feels good to see you wanna f**k with it. It feels good to see people you can look at say and say, “That's my family.”

When you get those emails from ScoreMore and Dreamville asking what did you like and what you didn't like, let us know. I have a notebook I've been walking around with thinking we have to do this better, we have to do that better. We need this kind of activation. We need that, this food was wack, make sure you have this next time. We're gonna do it next year and the year after that and have bigger acts and better and people you wouldn't expect. We got Davido to come out from Nigeria. That's a beautiful thing. It could be J. Balvin, it could be Beyonce. The sky's the limit. Just keep talking to us as fans and we'll get it poppin'.

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Music Sermon: The One Minute Hit - When TV Theme Songs Were Lit

The idea of sitting around the TV for appointment television is an archaic concept. Multiple devices with screens for everyone in your home plus the control of streaming has changed how we consume nearly everything except sports, award shows, and Game of Thrones (until tonight). But the children of the 80s very much remember when TV watching was still an event, cable was basic, and the networks reigned supreme. Back in that era of genuine primetime programming, our favorite TV shows came paired with 30-second to one-minute themes. But not just a random little ditty to open the show; these were genuine mini-songs. Verses, chorus, hook, and maybe even a reprise for the end credits.

Now, a drive for more advertising inventory coupled with shorter attention spans has rendered the true theme song a rarity; but in the cases where they do still exist, the songs continue to be a key part of experiencing the show (again, like Thrones). The theme song draws you into the world of the show, it sets the tone, and it stays with you after. And the theme song game wasn’t a space like the commercial jingle game where only folks in the game know who the players are. The theme show business has its own OGs, but there are also names we know well - acclaimed producers, artists and musicians who helped create TV music magic. As such, there’s also a lot of hidden music history and connections behind some of these joints. I have watched an inordinate amount of television consistently throughout my life - you will pry my cable cord out of my cold, dead hands - and I consider myself an expert on the TV theme song. I offer you my list of some of the most soulful, slappin’ and impactful examples of the majesty of TV theme songs from yesteryear.

Sanford & Son

There is literally no music space Quincy Jones hasn’t conquered, including television. Q was in movie scoring land when Norman Lear’s partner Bud Yorkin came to him about composing a theme for their new show, Sanford and Son. “He said, 'I'd like you to write the theme for it.' I said, 'Who's in it?' And he said Redd Foxx,” Quincy told Billboard. “I said, 'Man, you can't put Redd Foxx on national TV!” I had worked with Redd Foxx 30 years before that at the Apollo. We used to do the Chitlin Circuit. I used to write this music for him to come out with.”

Q composed “The Street Beater” without even watching the Sanford and Son pilot. “I wrote that in about 20 minutes,” he said in an interview about his work in television. “I just wrote what he looked like. It sounds just like him, doesn’t it?” The funky, rag tag, backwoods bluesy song was the perfect musical accompaniment for Fred’s surveying his junkyard as Lamont’s truck rolled up, “It was raggedy, just like Foxx.”

Good Times

Norman Lear was the goat of working-class American storytelling on screen, but his shows also had some of the most iconic theme songs – “Those Were the Days” for Archie Bunker, “One Day at a Time” has great lyrics if you pay attention, he even had Donny Hathaway singing about pre-Golden Girls Bea Arthor for Maude. TV producers often used the same writing and production teams for their shows' themes, and Lear often tapped the husband and wife team of Alan and Marylin Bergman, who got their break co-writing with Quincy on “In the Heat of the Night.”

But as I said before, don’t let the TV theme song credits fool you, the Bergmans are two-time Academy Awards winners and in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. That’s the kind of talent behind Good Times.

The Good Times theme is a negro spiritual (there’s a Hammond B3 organ in it; issa spiritual), and singers Jim Gilstrap, from Stevie Wonder’s backing group, Wonderlove; and Somara “Blinky” Williams, a former original member of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Singers along with Andrae Crouch and famed session player Billy Preston, put some extra oil on it.

You don’t believe me when I say this is worship music? Watch this.

I really wanna know what the Bergmans knew about hanging in a chow line, though. I’m not even sure I knew that was the lyric before Dave Chappelle told us.

The Jeffersons

Before we move on from Lear sitcoms we have to pay respect to the best black TV theme song of all time. And before you argue with me, let’s please look at the stats: a 35-person choir, stomping and clapping - even double clapping! - mention of fish fry, and a reprise over the end credits with hummin’ like your big mama used to do while she was cookin’ on Sundays. Winner.

Even though it’s one of the best-known sitcom theme songs ever, what’s lesser known is that another Lear alum was behind it – Ja’net Dubois, aka Good Times’ Wilona Woods, co-wrote and sang the theme. Also, the male voice that joins her in the bridge isn’t Sherman Hemsley (although it really sounds like it could be him) but career backup singer Oren Waters.

Ja’net, who was a singer as well as actress, ran into Lear on the CBS lot one day and shared that she wanted to display her talent beyond acting. Lear partnered her with Jeff Barry to work on the aspirational Jefferson’s theme. Jeff had pop hits under his belt as part of producer Phil Spector’s stable; he wrote “River Deep - Mountain High.” He also wrote “One Day at a Time,” and later “Without Us,” Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis’ yacht-rocky theme for Family Ties.

Dubois later told Jet magazine she pulled from her own experience once she’d “made it” with Good Times. “I moved my whole family. I bought (my mother) a house, bought her a mink coat. I did everything, retired her. I did everything I ever promised her.” And you can feel Ja’net’s testimony coming through as that moving van makes its way across the Queensboro bridge and up the East Side.


Sherman Hemsley had the good fortune of being associated with two entries in the Praise Songs of TV (I just made that up) category. Amen’s “Shine on Me” is not only a rousing bop, it’s a forreal and actual gospel song. The theme was written, produced and played by the father of modern gospel, Andraé Crouch, and sung by gospel legend Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Sister Vanessa was backed in the TV version by the choir from Crouch’s First Memorial COGIC church. She later did her own version, but it didn’t have quite the same oomph when slowed down a little and without the full voices of a choir behind her.

Sigh… Imagine a time when a sitcom about a deacon in the black church with a whole gospel theme song was a primetime network hit. Also shout out to “There’s No Place Like Home” from 227, which preceded Amen on Saturday nights.

The Cosby Show

We’re going to set everything about Bill Cosby the man aside for a minute to talk about the show and its music. Agreed? Amen.

The Cosby Show has to be in this conversation, because over the course of the show’s history, the theme song and opening sequence became a hallmark of the series’ greatness, and it’s a prime example of theme songs being deeper than just something to play over opening credits. Every season, a new adaptation of “Kiss Me,” the theme written by Cosby and Stu Gardner (who also co-wrote the themes for A Different World and Living Single), opened the show. The opening sequence featured a Huxtable family dance showcase, changing as the kids grew and the cast core cast added, and sometimes subtracted. We were as anxious for the Cosby season premiere to see the new intro as we were to see the show itself.

Season 3 is when it started getting crunk, with a little Latin action. Auntie Phylicia was gettin’ it.

In Season 4 (my least favorite), “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” mania had made its way to the Huxtable family with Bobby McPheren’s rendition and a bit of a roaring ‘20s (and for the sake of the show location, we’ll say Harlem Renaissance) feel. Elvin’s first year in the sequence, Denise’s first year out.

Season 5 was a production. Literally, it was staged like a Broadway production. By now, the show was known for exposing diasporic art and culture and the people behind it to the world whenever possible, and that was the intention here as well, on the low.

The set design was a little South Pacific-esque, and costumes had a Caribbean flair reminiscent of some Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater pieces - appropriate since the movement was choreographed by Ailey great (and Boomerang’s off the chain creative director) Geoffrey Holder. Cosby’s high school classmate James DePriest, one of the first internationally recognized African American orchestral conductors, arranged the music, played by the Oregon Symphony orchestra. It was sweeping and gorgeous and I remember it being kind of a big deal. Second season with no Denise in the credits. I think she had left Hillman and gone Africa by this point. Or something.

Season 6 is my favorite. It was a party. The entire family was getting it in to a jam session take on the theme remixed with Junior Walker and the All Stars’ “Shotgun.” Even though the opening was set in front of the Apollo marquee, this was the Motown sequence. “Shotgun,” was a massive crossover hit, produced by Berry Gordy, and featured Motown’s famed session players, the Funk Brothers on instrumentals.

Welcome back, Denise. And hi, Martin and Olivia. Theo and Vanessa were hitting. that. heaux.

Ok, actually, Season 8 is my least favorite. Least favorite season, theme song, opening sequence, all of it. Here, I think, it’s clear that the show was past its prime. This jazzmatazz intro didn’t feel super fresh or creative, and Theo was trying to hit b-boy moves, and cousin Pam clearly wasn’t comfortable, and Vanessa looked like she just got engaged to a 40-year old ninja named Dabnis, and Clair still had her coat on because she couldn’t be bothered.

But on the cultural side, it was still in theme. The mural was created by kids at Harlem’s Creative Arts Workshop, although a legal dispute over art clearances kept this visual from being used as originally intended in Season 7. On the horn is Lester Bowie, a trumpeter known for his free jazz style.

A Different World

Obviously, we were paying a visit to Hillman next. “A Different World” is one of the best theme songs of all time – for Seasons 2 through 5 (also one of the best shows of all time – for Seasons 2 through 5).

Dawn Lewis, aka Jaleesa, co-wrote the song with Stu Gardner. She was originally supposed to sing it, as well, until whoever hired her to write the song realized she was also in the cast, and whoever cast her as Jaleesa realized she also wrote the song. The collective powers that be thought Dawn singing the theme would center her too much when the show was about Lisa Bonet, so they went to Al Green. Yes, the Reverend Al Green. A version of the “Different World” theme song sung by Al Green exists out there in the world somewhere, and I now have a life mission to hear it. Producers didn’t like it, though. They decided to go with a female voice, and pegged folk and blues singer Phoebe Snow.

As the show went into its second season, producers decided to take a similar approach as The Cosby Show and flip the theme every season with different artists and styles. Then Aretha Franklin recorded her version, and that idea was dead, because why would you ever ask someone else to sing behind Aretha. Debbie Allen, who had just stepped in as the show’s executive producer (Aunt Debbie brought A Different World out of the middling fare of its first season to the strong, black and relevant show we remember it as, but that’s a different Sermon) called Auntie Re personally, and then brought her whole team from Detroit to LA on a bus (because Auntie Re wasn’t gonna fly, chile). Then, TV history was made.

“I just know that she came in and hit it,” Allen told Vulture. “It wasn’t like she had to do ten takes, that’s what I know. She just hit it. That’s what I remember and then we all kind of hung out and had food together, you know — she loved our show which is why she did it.”

I’m low key surprised Aretha agreed to do the song since her ex-husband, Glynn Turman, joined the cast in Season 2 and she’s petty like that, but she also watched a lot of television and was a fan. When most think of A Different World, they’re thinking of seasons two and beyond. That iconic montage we’ve see recreated in tribute again and again, from SportsCenter to Grown’ish Season 2 promos. Nobody references car washes and hanging out outside of….a barn, I think? Where they at a farm for the Season 1 opening sequence? (You can tell some white people put that together – no shots).

Finally, the last season of A Different World was sort of “Different World: The Next Generation,” so they went in a new direction for the theme with a very non-Boyz II Men sounding Boyz II Men (I thought it was Take 6 for the longest), but Seasons 2 through 5 still reign supreme.

Different Strokes

On to a different show about different worlds. Remember I mentioned OGs in the theme song game? One of them was Alan Thicke. Yes, Robin Thicke’s daddy was not only lovable TV dad Jason Seaver, but also a professional theme writer. Thicke penned the tracks for a couple of sitcoms, including Facts of Life (with Robin’s mama Gloria Loring on vocals), but his thing was game shows. Your grandma has Alan to thank for the “Wheel of Fortune” theme. He not only wrote but sang “Diff’rent Strokes” (sounding a little like his son), and I mean, the song is perfect. The opening, the harmony build in the second verse, the bridge, the breakdown “…and together we’ll be fine, ‘cause it takes…,” the hum at the end of the closing credits version. You can tell from this one-minute jamalam that Robin got his blue-eyed soul honestly.

Speaking of the Chappelle Show again (there’s a Chappelle reference for everything in life), Dave closes out his famous White People Can’t Dance episode (Season 2, Episode 3) with a spirited performance of “Diff’rent Strokes,” going into a “Facts of Life” vamp, backed by Questlove and John Mayer.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Living Single

I’m putting these two together because they’re two of the last examples of the explanatory theme song for black prime time television.

The Quincy Jones-produced Fresh Prince theme tells us Will’s entire back story and the premise of the show – a ‘90s hip-hop answer to the Gilligan’s Island theme.

Living Single’s theme conveyed the high energy city life the four upwardly mobile friends were navigating, with emphasis from Queen Latifah’s sing-rapping about her homegirls standing on her left and her right, and the legendary dancing silhouette that is Big Lez.

Both shows, songs, and visuals have become representative of the hip hop generation’s takeover of ‘90s black television and ‘90s black culture, and both continue to hold up amazing well 25 years later.

We haven’t even touched on the soulful ‘70s themes that became hit singles, like “Welcome Back Kotter” (my joint) or “Angela” from Taxi, or sketch show theme songs like Heavy D for In Living Color (or TLC for “All That,” for y’all younger folks), or the cartoon smashes. There are gems galore to be mined, all containing shining bits of nostalgia and callbacks to a simpler time. These songs often resonate with us even more strongly than our favorite singles from the era because they were a constant for years instead of months. And thanks to networks later devoting blocks of time to classic TV reruns like Nick at Night and TV Land, many of these shows – and theme songs – have been introduced to a new generation.

We’ve focused mostly on black TV shows, but there are a few theme songs that cross cultural, generational and international boundaries. When the Golden Girls premiered in 1985, the series featured a remake of the 1978 song “Thank You for Being a Friend,” and it has lived in all our hearts ever since. So much so, that a member of the black church delegation gave the song a proper remix a couple of years ago. Let this be a reminder that great TV theme songs were not only catchy songs that stuck in our heads for decades, but also impetrated universal lessons about life, love, and friendship.


#MusicSermon is a weekly series by Naima Cochrane that highlights the under-acknowledged and under-appreciated urban artists and sub-genres from the '90s and earlier. The series seeks to tell unknown and/or forgotten stories that connect the dots between current music, culture and the foundations of the past.

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8 Best Samples From Megan Thee Stallion, Tyler The Creator And DJ Khaled's Projects

Megan Thee Stallion, DJ Khaled and Tyler, The Creator have more in common than just a release date. The artists also know a thing or two about thoughtful sampling.

Their projects, which all happen to be some of their best efforts, find inspiration from 70s soul and deep 90s underground jams. Jackson 5, Jay-Z and Sizzla were sampled on DJ Khaled's previous release Grateful, but with Father of Asahd, the producer and proud dad jumps back into the crates. This time around, modern hits are used like Ms. Lauryn Hill's "To Zion" and Outkast's "Ms. Jackson."

Megan Thee Stallion's samples also prove her rhymes aren't the only thing fans should pay close attention to.

Check out some of our favorite samples from this week's releases below.


Megan Thee Stallion- Fever 

1. "Hood Rat S**t"

Sample: Latarian Milton's Viral Video (2013)

Plucked from the wonderful world of viral videos, Megan uses the then 7-year-old's mischevious joy ride to accurately describe how she rolls with her crew.

2. "Pimpin"

Sample: DJ Zirk & Tha 2 Thick Family featuring 8Ball & MJG and Kilo-g  "Azz Out" (1996) 

There's something to be said about Megan's very clever samples. The chorus to the late 90s underground gem stems from southern legends like Tennesee's 8Ball and MJG along with NOLA's own Kilo-g. Megan grabs a few bars from the track and puts her own twist on them for the chorus: "Stick 'em up, stick 'em up, raise 'em up, raise 'em up Drop it off in his fucking face just to saw it off/Gotta get my a** ate, gotta make that a** shake/Gotta swipe this ni**a card so much they had to call the bank"

3. "Simon Says" featuring Juicy J 

Samples: Billy Paul, "Me And Mrs. Jones" (1972), "Looking For Tha Chewin,'" DJ Paul (Ft. 8Ball, DJ Zirk, Kilo-G, Kingpin Skinny Pimp & MJG) (1992)

Another variation of the aforementioned track is also heard on her collaboration with southern legend Juicy J. The soft intro by way of Bill Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones" also offers a soulful touch to the track.

DJ Khaled- Father of Asahd

4. "Holy Mountian" featuring Buju Banton, Sizzla, Mavado and 070 Shake) 

Sample: "One Spliff a Day," Billy Boyo (1981) 

Boyo's legendary riddim has been used by a bevy of artists including SiR and Wiz Khalifa but Khaled's curation of the track with some of the biggest names in reggae takes it to another level. It also doesn't hurt that his longtime friend and icon Banton opens the album.

5. "Just Us" featuring SZA 

Sample: "Ms. Jackson," Outkast (2001) 

This sample definitely raises the eyebrows, but the careful loop paired with SZA's sing-rap flow makes it worth a listen.

6. "Holy Ground" featuring Buju Banton 

Samples: "To Zion," Ms. Lauryn Hill and Carlos Santana (1999) 

Grand opening, grand closing. Banton closes out the album with soul-baring lyrics and a thoughtful sample to match. Carlos Santana's chords from the original track give the song a sentimental feel along with Banton's lyrics about mass incarceration, cultural warfare and spiritual freedom.

Tyler, The Creator- IGOR

7. "A BOY IS A GUN" 

Samples: "Bound," Ponderosa Twins Plus One (1971) 

Tyler might have gotten inspiration to sample this song from Kanye West (Bound 2), but his take is smooth and subtle as he navigates through love and heartbreak.

8. "ARE WE STILL FRIENDS" featuring Pharell Williams 

Samples: "Dream," Al Green (1977) 

Underneath IGOR's tough exterior lies a gentle soul. The placement of Al Green's "Dream," on the latter end of the album takes the listener on a starry love high. Pharrell and Tyler allow the sample to act as a skeleton for the song as they point out how to keep love alive.

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John Johnson III

Megan Thee Stallion Helps DTLR Celebrate Fashion's Past, Present and Future

Fashion retailer DTLR has always curated the best of streetwear, with their latest fashion show proving the evolution is real and influential.

The fourth annual show took place in Atlanta this spring under a theme titled, "Genesis."  The event took place in Atlanta, GA, with hosts Yung Joc and DTLR's Radio's Tiara LaNiece. DTLR's Apprelle Norton, David Storey and KeJuan McGee curated the event to take their guests "on a journey through the past, present and future of fashion, featuring the latest from top leading brands such as Nike, Puma, Adidas, Levis, Champion, Reebok, Fila, Black Pyramid, New Balance, Tommy Hilfiger, Staple, Hustle Gang, Akoo, Ethika, Odd Sox, and many more."

In addition to presenting some of the hottest looks out, the event also welcomed performances from VIBE NEXT Alumna Megan Thee Stallion. Appearances from the the "Big Ol Freak" rapper was an added effort on DTLR's Vice President of Marketing, Shawn Caesar's part to make the fashion show more of an "experience."

"We wanted to add more of an 'experience' feel to the show this year," Caesar said in a press release. "[We wanted]  to encourage more engagement and interaction from our attendees, and to aid in creating more memories and reasons to stay connected to the DTLR brand long-term."

DTLR is quickly becoming a part of a class of successful upcoming brands. The brand has more than 240 stores in 19 states and Washington D.C. and it manages to combine fashion, sports, entertainment, sports, and community empowerment into one; all while providing their customers with elite footwear, apparel and accessories to match.

See photos from the event below.



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