Act 1 was meant to set up the story.
With ‘Dreaming Wide Awake: Act 2’, The Dream Sequence is adding an array of colors and context to the shape of things as we know it.
The five-song EP (10 tracks including the instrumentals) officially releases on July 11, 2021. Scene 1 and Scene 2 (Sareem Poems + Ess Be) were kind enough to let us get early access. For fans of what many consider “classic hip hop”, what the talented duo is bringing to the table is a breath of fresh air. With skilled lyricism and a sound that both sets the bar and is familiar at the same time, The Dream Sequence marks the return of an era many believed had passed.
For those who clamor for groups/duos in hip hop, here is your new go-to.
Dreaming Wide Awake: Act 2 brings all the elements that a hip hop head could hope for. It does so in a way that also connects to today’s audience. Below are my thoughts, but I encourage you to come to your own conclusions about this project. You can pre-order the project via Bandcamp now.
The lead track on the project is also the first single released. On Free Mind, Scene 1 and Scene 2 do exactly what they were made to do. Poignant bars over classic boom-bap encourage the listener to open their mind in order to break free of what is currently holding them captive. Sareem Poems shares stories of people in his life who encouraged him to do the same. Ess Be uses hard-hitting bass coupled with string hits to create a choir-like sonic setting. It is a great introduction to Act 2.
Ay Yo! begins with a lo-fi static crackle and tribalistic drum patterns. I love Sareem’s cadence on the first verse. The synth underlying brings a beautiful element as well that defines the record’s parts. Ay Yo! is one of those head-nodders. The hook is far from the most impressive you’ve ever heard. It is not one that is likely to stay with you. Even so, that doesn’t mean that it fails in its purpose. This track is all about feeling and energizing the listener, which easily hits its mark. I can definitely see this record being a favorite for DJs as it is sure to keep people moving.
The mood changes course on Idol Hands as slow piano chords and deep melodic vocals kick things off.
The inclusion of finger snaps are a nice touch that goes along with the soulful crooning. As the verse starts off, I really enjoyed the production change that features a reversed sample that again harkens back to golden-era hip hop. It complements the bars of Sareem Poems as the emcee tackles emotion-filled topics. In his verses, Poems openly works through personal difficulties that are more than relatable. Who are we really? Are we what brands, marketing, and society tell us, or are we indeed unique and created with a purpose? Then comes the hook. Like a glorious realization, Poems declares “I’m nothing close to what I’m painted to be, I’m free. I just want to be who God made me to be.” By the time the record ends, Idol Hands has become one of my favorite Dream Sequence songs so far.
Sonically, Act 2 changes direction to a more open and simplistic feel for Groovy. It is a nice contrast coming off of Idol Hands and while the production is inviting, it is the lyricism that quickly jumps front and center. Sareem reminds the listener that he is one of the most gifted spitters in hip hop. He is in his bag as he seamlessly moves in and out of patterns. The ease with which he commands the beat is only found with an emcee who has truly mastered his craft. Groovy is a classic summer track. It is one of those records where, no matter what style you prefer, everyone tunes in for it when it drops.
The finale of the five-song set is a subdued tempo paired with deep bass that surrounds your environment. Sareem Poems provides life lessons that are grounded in biblical truths. Life can certainly weigh on us and have us believing lies. It is up to us to either accept these falsehoods or look in the mirror and take ownership of our reality. For believers, we have the truth and it is powerful. Forever Everything is an encouragement and reminder of the promises we have been given.
“Everything’s imperfect, including you and me/forever’s a long time that our bodies never see/everything don’t last forever, this too shall pass/everytime that you cry, deserves a good laugh”
Overall, I really enjoyed Dreaming Wide Awake: Act 2.
What Sareem Poems and Ess Be are doing with The Dream Sequence is not only needed, but it simply feels special. They are proving that what is at the core of hip hop is not something that will just “go away”. It is a foundation that is proven. Mix its recipe with a good dose of high-quality expectations and it is hard to go wrong.
Dreaming Wide Awake (yes, I’m now including Act 1 & Act 2 as a whole), is certainly worthy to be in the discussions that center around the best releases of the year.
***What do you think of the single “Free Mind”? What songs are you excited to hear? Hit the comments and let us know!***