Christmas is just around the corner and it appears that hip-hop fans have already gotten their fair share of goodies. Weeknd dropped one of the most anticipated albums just recently and in the last few weeks we’ve been gifted by Childish Gambino and rumor has it that Drake is planning another release before the New Year (fingers crossed!).
This post, however, gives my insight into J. Cole’s highly awaited, 4th studio album – For Your Eyez Only.
Hailed as Jay Z’s protégé, coming from North Carolina, J. Cole is back and following up with his hit-double-platinum-no-feature 2014 Forest Hills Drive with more fire as he released his latest album on December 9.
Also please can we stop with the “double-platinum-no-feature” deal? It was funny as first but these terrible memes are getting out of hand. And no people, “he only makes music for smart people” is just stupid. Get outta here with that high school philosophy shit.
Sorry about that spiel. Getting back to the album now.
How Does It Rank Against 2014 J. Cole
Some parallels can be drawn between For Your Eyez Only and 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Both albums were dropped fairly late into the year. This one also has a similar sound. Lots of jazzy instrumentals and pleasant beats and J. Cole’s un-urgent, laid back rapping. However, nothing really comes off as trailblazing.
What Is It About?
It’s not the music per say but the story and narrative that is powerful and has an edge to it. The album sort of chronicles the life of a young J. Cole and a friend of his who tragically but unsurprisingly becomes a victim of the violence that comes with dealing drugs. Through this record, Cole is trying to paint a picture for his friend’s fatherless daughter, hoping to give her an insight into the circumstances they were involved with. The last track, which became the album title, provides an incredible amount of detail. However, this central theme is not very coherent and the individual tracks failed to seamlessly incorporate this central narrative, in my opinion.
I say that because tracks like “Neighbours”, for as much as I like it, doesn’t really gel all that well with the story that is at the heart of this album. I do appreciate what Cole was trying to do, especially with “She’s Mine Pt. 2” which showcases a very emotional side of Cole, most of the tracks failed to really drive home the theme. It could’ve been more coercive and compelling to be honest.
Some of the songs also include a bunch of filler lyrics, which don’t really add anything to the song or the story and just seem oddly out of place. I say that because of “Déjà vu” that has lots of fluff which means nothing really and doesn’t even make sense at times. “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, the first track on the album, also has some obvious rhymes that just doesn’t work for me. Mostly because I expect more from Cole. It sets up the next track, “Immortals”, which is one my favorites and it has lots of gritty rhymes about his challenges and struggles. A similar trajectory continues on with “Vile Mentality” and that’s when the album begins to shift.
The album branches out into a story about Cole and how a boy meets a girl, and how their relationship develops and strengthens as Cole opens up about this vulnerabilities.
The gears are then turned with “Change” which continues to build momentum but like I said before, it doesn’t really add anything to any of the underlying narratives. Through “Change”, Cole gives us an insight into his perception of the drug-dealing lifestyle and the viciousness and helplessness that comes with it and it ties well with “Immortal”, the second track on the album.
The next track, “Folding Clothes” is probably my least favorite on the album, partly just because of the filler that I discussed about previously, but also just lazy, uninteresting rhyming that comes with it. “Folding Clothes” highlights a changed Cole and the lengths he is ready to go to and stay committed. It doesn’t really come off as witty like “Wet Dreamz” on FHD. Folding clothes doesn’t signal that you are a changed man, Cole. This isn’t you being the best version of you.
To Sum It Up
I do like how Cole introduced and talked about the deeper issues in the community. “Neighbours” really highlights the perception of young African Americans by rich, snobby, white upper-middle class. Overall, the album doesn’t really do a good job with the portrayal of Cole’s friend for his daughter and seemed kinda out of focus. The closing title track did bring some closure about the narrative and I really like it.
Favorites: Neighbours, Immortal, She’s Mine Pt. 2, 4 Your Eyez Only
Least Favorite: Folding Clothes
Stream Album: J. Cole – For Your Eyez Only (Spotify)
Buy Album: J. Cole – For Your Eyez Only (iTunes)
What are your thoughts on the album? Let us know in the comment section below and on our social!
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