It has been apparent since the early days of hip-hop’s popularity in America that the best artists are lyrical, honest, and conscious of the world around them. J.Cole has shown time and time again that he possesses these strengths, coupled with the ability to get people to actually listen to his music. Cole has previously gone platinum with no features in an industry that often relies on collaboration from big names, and this time around we got the same tenacious solo effort from the artist. The title of this album – “4 Your Eyez Only” – has been theorized by the digital masses to be either a nod to Tupac’s “All Eyez On Me” or a dedication to his newborn daughter (the latter appearing more accurate to those who actually listen to the album). Either way, the album manages to be one of the best rap albums to be released this year, which is not an easy feat to accomplish given all the talent recently displayed in the genre.
“False Prophets” created a lot of buzz online due to the apparent calling out of rappers Kanye West and Wale. Dissing in rap has been a common thread in the industry over the last few years, whether it be over a tweet, an Instagram video, or an actual song. While much beef is manufactured in order to generate attention and revenue, J.Cole’s purpose in calling out his peers in this instance seems to be bringing an authentic message to his fans about the ills of fame and losing sight of what’s important in life, inside of the industry and as an individual.
Standout tracks from this album include “Neighbors,” based on a true story of a SWAT raid on Cole’s studio, “She’s Mine Parts 1 & 2,” odes to his wife and daughter respectively, and “Change,” explaining his relationship with God and observations on his personal struggles as well as the plight of the Black man in America. Every song on this album is crafted with masterful instrumentation, with some jazz influence and intricate string work. Lyrically, J.Cole brings the world-class talent that is expected of him, and brings relevant conversation on vulnerability in relationships and Black manhood. He sets a standard that is hard to achieve talent wise, while remaining relatable to his audience and informative to those who may not experience the issues he brings to light. The album is his soul personified in music. Check out “4 Your Eyez Only” here: