Dreezy continues to win in plain sight. When you weren’t looking, the artist dropped one of the strongest projects of 2019. Appropriately titled Big Dreez, the 10-track offering showcases the Chicago native’s lyrical knockouts (“Play Wit Ya,” “Chicken Noodle Soup”) with gentle comedowns in the form of sweet harmonies (“Showin Out,” “Love Someone” with current beau Jacquees).
The project’s standout track “Chanel Slides” with Kash Doll has been a must-have on any Hot Girl Summer playlist and gave us another solid collaboration between women dominating rap today. It’s also the same energy Dreezy brought to Atlanta earlier this year to Dreamville’s recording sessions for the highly anticipated Revenge of the Dreamers 3 mixtape.
“It was a summer camp, like an X-Men summer camp,” Dreezy tells VIBE. “Everybody has different powers and does different things and we all came together, it was almost like a school. J. Cole went through the studios giving feedback and listening to what we were doing. It would be 20 people in one room, 10 producers, 10 rappers and you gotta find the right beat for you. A song is only four minutes long and only so many people can get on a song, so everyone is in that one studio writing trying to get on a song. Every room I went in I made sure I got my verse on the song. You know, I was just trying to write fast and have some good bars at the same time. Every room had a different vibe and it was almost like survival of the fittest.”
Just a piece of the result happens to be “Got Me,” featuring Dreamville artists Ari Lennox and Omen with Ty Dolla $ign and a memorable verse from Dreezy. Dipping between vulnerable raps and proclamations of love, she delivered defiant raps that make her the breakout on the track.
She also happened to be just one of the few female emcees on the ROTD3 marquee. Other women in the studio included Lennox, more budding singer-songwriters like Baby Rose, Mereba, Njozma, Van Jess, Chrystel Bagrou and Janelle Monae’s Wondaland artists St. Beauty, but with the exception of Dreezy, Young M.A. and Rapsody, the rooms were dominated by male rappers.
The notion wasn’t lost on those watching from the social media sidelines as black women who operate in hip-hop journalism questioned the lack of personalized marigold invites sent their way. But for Dreezy, who is used to being the only woman in the room, the challenge was met with sharp lyrical precision.
”I don’t know but sometimes it’s like a show-off moment for me,” she says. “I’ll let everybody do their verse and then I’ll come through. It’s like, I know I can go bar-for-bar with these people. The rap industry [can feel like] a male industry. I’m always ‘the girl’ in the group, but I’m happy there are more female rappers coming out. There’s a lot of dope people I like right now—especially Kash Doll.”
There were also times where artists were hopeful that Cole heard their verses, including Dreezy. In a trailer for Revenge: A Dreamville Film released Wednesday (June 26) following the process, the environment was filled with rappers and producers bringing their A-game. The 10-day recording session taught Dreezy the art of remaining in her “Big Dreez” bag and leaning on her confident spirit.
“I remember there was one song where I wanted Cole to hear my verse so bad, but he came in for a minute while I was writing,” she says, recalling one of many blink-and-miss-it moments. “By the time I laid my verse, he had walked out. But I told him, ‘Go back in there and listen to my verse.’”
Dreezy and Cole’s working relationship stems from mutual friends and what she considers a deep respect for each other’s work. It’s a notion that seems to spread around the industry about the 25-year-old. Prior to the release of Big Dreez, the songwriter released her debut project No Hard Feelings in 2016 with successful singles like “Body” featuring Jeremih and “Close to You” with T-Pain.
Her work ethic along with her ability to drop stunt-music for women and men has set her apart from other budding acts in Chicago. As acts on the drill scene fade out of the spotlight, Dreezy remains true to herself without sucking pop music’s teat. Her chameleon-like abilities have earned her praise from peers like A$AP Ferg, Big Boi, Cardi B, Queen Key, and Megan Thee Stallion. With Cole being one of her biggest inspirations, the universe had plans for the two to cross paths, which led to her invitation to the ROTD3 sessions.
I’ll let everybody do their verse and then I’ll come through. It’s like, I know I can go bar-for-bar with these people.
“The last time we talked was overseas and we had an hour and a half conversation backstage,” she recalls. “He was just dropping a lot of gems on me, giving me advice. We talked about social media and how people’s attention spans are really short and how you gotta feed people and stay consistent. The next thing I know, I was invited to the sessions. I told him thank you for letting me come. And he was like ‘Yeah you’re good. If you ever go in a room and you hear something that you want, hop on just put your verse on it. Just throw it on there.’ So, that’s what I did.”
In addition to “Got Me,” Dreezy recorded songs with other members of Dreamville like Bas, J.I.D., and EarthGang. Between holding her own against nearly every hot commodity in the industry, Dreezy has also honed in on her songwriting as well as her growth in and out of rap.
“When I first started rapping, I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing,” she says. Some of those moments of little thought were hit collaborations with Sasha Go Hard and Lil Durk in 2012. It wasn’t until 2014 when she dropped her remix of Nicki Minaj’s “Chiraq” that she caught the industry’s ears. With her success came the need to comb through her abilities and an urge to find her voice.
“After a while it just clicked in my head, ‘This is you, this is your pocket right here, so once I got into my pocket for real, it’s like ‘Big Dreez’ is here,’” she said. “The difference now is that I can do this sh*t for real with my eyes closed.”
Putting a pause on things worked in her favor. She recently scored a brand ambassador deal with Puma and starred in her first film Beats, a Netflix original movie alongside Anthony Anderson. The artists also helped score some of the film’s original songs for her character Queen Cabrini.
For her own forthcoming album, listeners can expect Dreezy to drop more bars and melodies the best way she knows how. “I love the songs from the new album. I wish we could have put them on Big Dreez, but they fit the wave of the album. I’ve got some real R&B records in the stash that are going on the album. But it’s just me having fun and being comfortable with the topics I’m rapping about.”