J Cole’s new album 4 Your Eyez Only
BY ROBERT VICKENS – J Cole’s new album 4 Your Eyez Only is straight from the streets and full of soul. On the title track he raps to us over a somber beat with jazz overtures. His voice resonates like it’s coming out of a deep well, a well of strength hidden deep within the forest of pain. The production of this song tells a story in itself. The bass guitar and saxophone weave throughout the track to give the song a slow, steady, and cerebral burn. Choir organs are keyed up at all the right moments to signify profound pieces of the story. This is a story of heartache and the beauty which is birthed from that heartache. Due to negative social conditions and poor economic circumstances, a man finds himself trapped in a modern hell. He works as hard as he can to scrape by and fight his way out, but the law and local police work as demons – their only job is to keep people from making their way out. But, in the midst of the devil’s domain he has a blessing: his girlfriend births a baby girl. His life has already been ruined by the revolving door of this hellish system, the prison industrialist complex, but he keeps an ember of hope alight in his heart for her. He recognizes the fact that he has become a victim of mass incarceration and his story is also the story of many other young black men in America. The father channels this ember of pain into passion and writes a song for his daughter. Fate sends him spiraling down the dark tunnels of his past and J. Cole is entrusted with the secret song. The father would not live long enough to hear it played for his daughter. His love for his daughter lives on in the flame of this song.
This album shows J. Cole’s overall growth as an artist. His previous LP Forest Hills Drive 2014 went double platinum with no features. He is the first artist in 25 years to accomplish such a feat. 4 Your Eyez Only was released with no prior marketing and social media has been hyping its release ever since the unveiling of two unrelated tracks Everybody Dies and False Prophets. We can see from his documentary Eyez, released last week, live instruments are vital pieces of his production. J. Cole creates a mosaic of music with influences from Jazz, Japanese anime, and Classical theory. Social issues are presented in clear, concise fashion by Cole’s smooth style of rhyming. Cole and his team worked tirelessly in Electric Lady Studios to bring us this masterpiece. For Whom the Bell Tolls (aptly named after a heart-wrenching Hemingway novel) shows us Cole screaming over trumpets on the edge of life and death. The next track, Immortal, shows us the depth of the darkness and gives us something we haven’t felt since Tupac turned into Makaveli.
The entire album is a work of art and J. Cole uses the art of rhyming to paint a picture of the common pain felt throughout black America. The painting portrays the story of a man who loved a woman and a daughter without a father. 4 Your Eyez Only is a beautiful tragedy. Listen to the album here and, if you haven’t seen it yet, watch the documentary. J. Cole dropped some serious gems with this one, it’s sure to be a fan pleaser.