J. Cole fans have been impatiently awaiting his unexpected new album, 4 Your Eyez Only. Although he has garnered multi-platinum success, his level of artistry has quietly slipped under the radar. He’s not as conscious as Common. However, he’s not as pop as Drake either. His last album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, went platinum with no guest features. 4 Your Eyez Only is also void of guest features. After just one listen, I’m sure his sales will even surpass its predecessor.
There’s a dark cloud over J. Cole for the majority of this album. He has always been reflective. This time his vibe exudes a sense of morbid reflection though. He released two stellar new songs, “Everybody Dies” and “False Prophets”. The production of these tracks fits right in with his new album; but neither made the final cut. Death is a looming concept throughout thee entire album. Ironically, the first two tracks touch on it heavier than expected. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is a lyrical self fulfilling prophecy and declaration of his life. He questions whether he wants to live or die. Then on “Immortal”, he recounts his late teenage years of street life. The most disturbing line of the song is when he reveals his only wish in death: “Make it quick if the Lord takes me”.
As the album progress, the story seems to unravel as one that doesn’t necessary belong to J. Cole. Sure, there are obvious parallels. However, the narrative here seems to be J. Cole speaking from the perspective of his slain friend, James McMillan. His friend left behind a daughter (check out the retrospective title track, “4 Your Eyez Only”) at just 22 years old (checkout “Change” for the story of how he died). J. Cole’s haunting perspective here is one of someone who escaped the streets and had to witness his close friend get caught in its snares.
4 Your Eyez Only is arguably J. Cole’s most personal work to date. The beautiful two part “She’s Mine” speaks of his wife understanding thoroughly him. The second installment speaks of the love he has for his daughter. “Neighbors” exudes a throwback 90s style. Here, he is frustrated with those who undermine his success and believe he’s just a popular thug. He lightens up the mood on the radio friendly “Foldin’ Clothes”. The ladies will surely appreciate this song as he raps about the little things that matter in love.
J. Cole not only has a classic album on his hands, but a surefire major increase of respect in the rap game. 4 Your Eyez Only is music that should be seen, heard and felt by the masses. Check out and his documentary, Eyez, below.
Plus, here’s “Everybody Dies”, which didn’t make the album.
Also, don’t forget there are just 4 DAYS LEFT (ends on December 13th) to get your exclusive, signed copy of Stingrays, my latest poetry book.