“D-day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape” was released on March 31, 2022 by J. Cole under his record label Dreamville. The album features artists such as DJ Drama, JID, Sheck Wes, 2 Chainz, Young Nudy and many others with 15 tracks on the album. This review is entirely my opinion; I suggest you go listen to the album yourself rather than take my word as to how the album actually is, because everyone’s perspective is different.
The first track on the album is “Stick” (feat. JID, J. Cole, Kenny Mason, & Sheck Wes). The song opens with large horns and DJ Drama yelling about how we weren’t ready for the album and how we didn’t see it was coming, giving the immediate impression on how the rest of this song was about to go. Right after Drama’s short clip, in comes JID screaming “stick” which immediately gave me chills. After JID’s part it tones down a bit with Kenny Mason coming in with a melodic soul feeling verse and then going into him rapping. After Kenny’s part ends it cuts back to JID yelling and rapping and I honestly adore this flow that he has over this almost orchestral beat. Sheck and Cole’s part of this song didn’t feel as prominent as JID and Kenny’s part and felt a lot weaker. Though this is the case, I love the hype that JID brings to the song, it makes it a lot better, especially how it goes from Drama’s intro straight into the yelling I just can’t get enough of. I’m gonna rate this song an 8 out of 10.
“Ghetto Gods Freestyle” is a much more chilled out take to this album, although still with Drama’s vocals in the background, it didn’t bring me in the same way as “Stick.” 2 Chainz’s part on this track felt like it had more effort, but the beat on this song was atrocious, and EARTHGANG’s part felt so weak it really didn’t leave me with much to say about it. I would rate this song about a 4 out of 10.
“Lifestyle” with Bas and A$AP Ferg has a crazy flow but the weakest 808 I’ve ever heard. The mixing on the track is good and I love the sample that they use but the 808 is just awfully mixed with no low end and an already weak mid end. I really like Bas’s part on this song; his flow is amazing and I love the way he can pull something good out of this god awful beat playing in the background. Ferg’s part of this song has an even crazier flow than Bas’s but again the beat is just really not good and holds them back a lot. If the 808 on this track wasn’t so atrocious, I would definitely rate this higher but since the only thing it had going for it was the sample, and how wild the artists were going, I’m gonna have to rate this a 5 out of 10.
“Starting 5” with Lute, Cozz and Omen was a major step up from the last two songs. Drama and Lute have a little interaction at the beginning with Drama telling him to perform well, which he does with a beautiful flow over a calm beat that hits like crazy, giving me goosebumps all over. However, after his main verse it cuts to this little melodic chorus that doesn’t sound great; I feel like they could have executed this part better or had someone else on. Omen’s part on this track was amazing and I love the way his voice mixes with the sort of hotel lobby type beat playing under him. Something I wasn’t expecting to happen around two thirds of the way into the song was a complete switch up of the beat from a sort of late night hotel lobby beat to a more mysterious dusk at the beach feel with a beautiful vocal sample playing in the background as Cozz goes absolutely mad on this beat. Rapping about his beginnings to where he is now fits really well over this beat. I really like this song even though it had an odd switch up. 7 out of 10.
“Coming Down” with Ari Lennox really surprised me because I didn’t really expect an R&B track on this album. The beat is odd to say the least, I like the R&B aspect of it but it seems the theme of this album so far is abhorrent 808s with just another awful one ruining the whole beat again. The 808 on this track is something that I could go on about forever; it feels almost out of key in some parts even though it’s not, it 100% could have been better. Lennox’s vocals on this track are amazing to say the least, bringing this song back up from its knees due to the awful beat. This song would be amazing and something I would listen to if it weren’t for that egregious 808 absolutely ruining the song. 6 out of 10.
“Hair salon” with Cozz featuring G Perico and Reason has a solid beat with a tense and mysterious tone to it with very lo-fi mixing on the drums. This really brings out the artist’s vocals on this song and leaves a lot of open room for a good flow. DJ drama also makes everything 20 times better when he’s introducing a song. This song isn’t too notable because I feel like everyone was underperforming, and the only flow that I really liked was Cozz’s. There’s also this annoying lead with a really irritating string sample playing in the background that got on my nerves. The only thing holding this song up was the beat (not including the string sample) and Cozz. 5 out of 10.
“Freedom of Speech” with J. Cole is amazing, the beat is perfect, and his vocals and flow are perfect. The beat could not have been better having no issues with the mix unlike other tracks, and the way Cole delivered over it was miles better than how he did on “Stick.” I love the melodicity of this song and all of the horns and chords playing in the background gave me chills. I was nodding to this song like a sleep deprived chicken bobbing its head. This song had me sucked in for the whole 2 minutes and 11 seconds that it lasted. It was short, sweet and simple. 10 out of 10.
“Blackberry Sap” with Ari Lennox was like 30 times better than “Coming Down.” The R&B beat on this song was executed so much better than “Coming Down” and I absolutely adored her background vocals, and her vocal tone. The sample used in this song along with the low pass filter gives it a very calm tone that I love, but the kick wasn’t great and her vocals were mixed a bit weirdly. It might have been the microphone but it felt like it didn’t have enough high end. Other than that, this song was really good, and I’m gonna give it an 8 out of 10.
“Like Wine” with Lute is very interesting, it has a super chilled out dark and mysterious vibe to it. This song reminded me of “777” by X and Kid Trunks a bit with the feel I got from it. Another solid 808, which is a plus one, is used in the sample and I really like the way they pitched it down; it really added to the dark tone. Lute’s vocals are alright in this song, this is what really reminded me of “777”: this rough rapping over a dark lo-fi beat which I feel mostly in the chorus. I feel like the chorus carries this song, but the rest of his vocals bring it down for me, hence I’m going to give this one a 6.5 out of 10.
“Jozi Flows” with Bas and EARTHGANG is a really solid addition to “D-Day” with a sample I feel would have worked better in a drill song. This song’s beat did have a slight drill feel in the drums but there’s nothing particularly special about this beat or notable within the sample. The thing that makes this song great is the chorus, the vocal layers are just perfect, and the way Bas and EARTHGANG perform on this song is super good compared to their other songs. Everything works really well and the only thing I would change is the key; I would pitch everything up a bit. I’m gonna give this song a solid 7 out of 10.
“Barry From Simpson” with JID, 2 Chainz, and Young Nudy is confusing for me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what the sample in the beat reminds me of but I can only describe it as an annoying cartoon villain theme with an 808 that was mixed well, but ended up distorting so I assume there wasn’t a limiter on the master. The banter in the beginning made me chuckle a bit but JID’s flow on this really matched the beat which confused me. It felt all over the place, and felt disorganized and off but in a good way. I don’t like Nudy on this track; I feel like JID was able to match this beat a lot better. Nudy’s ad libs and background vocals were good but I feel like it should have been a JID solo track since he was able to match the beat far better than Nudy. The song was alright, 6.5 out of 10.
“Everybody Aint Shit” with EARTHGANG is certainly an interesting track. The beat is really odd in a good way, and the chords panned to the left give the song a fever dream feel. I also like that they sampled “Yonkers” by Tyler, The Creator or at least used the same sample. The 808 on this song is really good and I don’t think I would change anything about the beat other than adding a panning automation on the chords to go left and right instead of sitting on my left ear; it bothered me for some reason. Earth’s vocals on this song are just not good. I feel like if you put Nudy on this song it would sound better; I really didn’t like the vocal tone he kept on this song and I feel like he should have toned it down to more of a mumble, which ultimately would have sounded better. Gonna have to give this song a flimsy 5.5 out of 10.
“Ballin in Newport”with Omen has my favorite beat on the whole album. I love the piano, and with the lo-fi drums it just gives the perfect combination. Omen’s vocals and lyrics brought this track to a whole other level. His flow on this song was unmatched by most on this album, and the story he was telling, especially him talking about studying hip hop and coming up, really resonated with me more specifically on studying music and falling in love with it. I don’t think I would change a single thing about this song, 10 out of 10.
“Big Trouble Freestyle” with Cozz is a pretty dry song, mostly because of how empty the beat was. The beat had a very simplistic chord progression playing over a simple drum pattern. The mixing on this track was very clean and worked well with how Cozz was rapping, although again it felt bland and numb. I wasn’t super fond of this song but I really liked the bar “I’m a Spider-Man fan, but man fuck the web. It gave voices to losers who never get out of bed” because it really reflects on the way social media is right now and how it gives a platform for sending hate to artists. I’m going to give this one a 6 out of 10.
“Heavens EP” with J. Cole opens with an angelic vocal sample with cleanly mixe\
d drums and a groovy bass that adds a super chill vibe to the whole song. Cole’s flow on this song fit really well over the beat and I really enjoyed the track as a whole. I’m giving this track an 8 out of 10.
I really enjoyed this album from the middle onwards, and the energy on “Stick” was just wild. For my final rating of the album as a whole, I’m gonna rate it a solid 6.5 out of 10. There were a lot of songs I enjoyed but to be honest a lot of the songs were poorly mixed or just felt off, but I would still recommend giving it a listen of your own.