4 Your Eyez Only is a Gift 4 Our Earz

December 15, 2016
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Looks like J. Cole had us all fooled.  After rapping “Said all I could say, now I play with retirement” on the track “Jermaine’s Interlude” on DJ Khaled’s album, Major Key¸ and then announcing, onstage, at The Meadows Festival in October that that would be his last show for a while, it seemed like J. Cole was, at the very least, taking a break from the music world.  Yet, just two months later, on December 9th, exactly two years after releasing Forest Hills Drive,  J. Cole dropped a new album titled 4 Your Eyez Only. 

4 Your Eyez Only is a personal one for Cole, and it’s not because all of the songs give us insight into his private life.  In an interview with Complex, Elite, a co-executive producer on the album, revealed that the majority of the album is told from the perspective of a person who is not J. Cole.  This is possibly most evident in “Ville Mentality” where the voice of a little girl is featured saying,

“My dad, he died—he got shot cause his friend set him up.

And I didn’t go to his funeral—and sometimes when I’m in my room, I get mad at my momma when she mean to me.

And she—

And she say, clean up—I say—…

…I get mad, I slam my door and go in my room—

And then, I get mad and I say, ‘I wish my dad was here’”.

These powerful words voice the perspective of a child who’s lost a father.  J. Cole’s decision to let this album speak for others, and not just himself, …..

Even though many of the songs on this album may be told from the perspective of others, the album’s main theme is one that Cole can relate to and is passionate about.  J. Cole has never been shy about being an activist against racial injustices.  After the fatal of shooting of Michael Brown, J. Cole not only traveled to Ferguson, Missouri to participate in the protests, he also released the song “Be Free” as a direct response to this instance of police brutality.   4 Your Eyez Only addresses the theme of racial injustice by talking about mass incarceration and, once again, police brutality.

In “Neighbors”, a song based on a real-life incident where prejudiced neighbors reported to the police that J. Cole and his entourage were growing weed in a house that they had rented (after investing, the police found no such thing), Cole talks about the way that acts of racism impact individuals.  He raps,

“I can’t sleep cause I’m paranoid

Black in a white man territory

Cops bust in with the army guns

No evidence of the harm we done

Just a couple neighbors that assume we slang

Only time they see us we be on the news, in chains, damn”.

Powerful lyrics like these combined with track after track of dope beats is what makes 4 Your Eyez Only J. Cole’s best album yet.

The depth of talent possessed by J. Cole, and evident in this new album, is not news to those of us who have been fans for a while.  WeKnowTheDJ’s very own DJ Tay James has been privy to the genius of this iconic artist for quite some time.  Back in 2009, DJ Tay James, in partnership with J. Tinsely and J. Cole himself, hosted the mixtape “American Dreamin’: A History Lesson J. Cole” and generated buzz for the artist, who was lesser known at the time.

Since then, J. Cole’s talents have continued to shine and are being recognized by recognized by hundreds of thousands of people, which is evidenced in the already occurring successes of 4 Your Eyez Only.  Not only is the album expected to debut at number one of the Billboard 200 chart, but it also forecasted to earn about 550,000 equivalent album units in the week ending December 15, which would make it the third biggest album debut of the year.

4 Your Eyez Only is, without a doubt, a gift to all of us music lovers.  Now, we just have to keep our fingers crossed that J. Cole tours this album, so we can all experience J. Cole perform these songs live.

-Roxy Rappaport @roxyrappaport

Feature Image by: Leslie Crow

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