J.Cole Album Review

J.Cole's album cover

J.Cole’s album cover

Journee Trotter, Staff Reporter

After releasing his third studio album, “Forest Hills Drive”, J. Cole’s fans had long awaited for the follow up. After Forest Hills went platinum with no features, fans were hoping that his next album would exceed anything and everything Forest Hills was.

“4 Your Eyez Only” released on December 9, 2016. The album had 10 songs, and again went with the theme of having no featured artists. Throughout the album, J. Cole discusses many issues including social and emotional tribulations Cole went through before stardom.

In the introduction of the first song, “For Whom the Bells Toll,” the lines could be seen as a metaphor. The lines could be seen from the point of view of his late friend, James McMillian Jr, which is the point of view the album is mostly told from. Throughout the song Cole describes “his” depression and not being able to escape it or experience happiness.

His next song, “Immortal” Cole describes growing up and having to sell drugs to survive. Though Cole never had to face this, James did, he defines that being a hustler makes you “immortal.”

In “Déjà vu” Cole talks to a woman in his mind about the men she chooses to be in her life. The song is similar to one of his songs on his previous albums, “Dreams,” where he has his eyes set on another woman, which stems to title of this song “Déjà vu.”

“Ville Mentality” strays away from the other plots of the two songs and focuses on his rap career and feelings on early retirement. The song ties in with the title, which goes with the theme that in his hometown, Fayetteville, had the mentality that opportunity didn’t exist there.

“She’s Mine pt. 1” and “She’s Mine pt. 2” was rumored to be about Cole’s wife and daughter, but they were written and told from the perspective of James McMillian Jr. “Change” Cole looks back on his understanding of the cycle of “violence and crime in black communities” and the death of James.

“Neighbors” talks about an incident that involved Cole’s home in North Carolina that was raided by SWAT team members for being suspected of drug activity. Though most of the album is not from Cole’s perspective, this one is.

Following the “emotionally vulnerable” “She’s Mine pt. 1,” Cole talks about his wife carrying their daughter and being there for her for the small tribulations she might face on the way.

“4 Your Eyez Only” is a message to Cole’s daughter and the theorized daughter of James McMillian Jr. Cole talks about the life story of his friend who succumbed to the temptations of the things surrounding him, while Cole tried to stay on the “right” path. The last verse of the song reveals that the entire album is about his friend’s life, not his, even though Cole’s life is a parallel of his friend’s, Cole got out of the life and his friend did not.

The album was undoubtedly lyrically blessed and conveyed messages and thoughts that needed to be expressed, the album was confusing. Trying to figure out the double meanings of songs as compared to the actual meaning left me focusing more on that instead of the actual song.

Despite this, I loved the album. Cole couldn’t have put the social standards and expectations of the black community in better words. Nonetheless, “4 Your Eyez Only” fulfilled the standards of the follow up album, and I can’t wait to hear what else J. Cole has in store.