The lyricist and rapper recognized as Jermaine Lamarr Cole (or J. Cole as some may know him as) has dominated the rap game for quite some time now. Rising in the rap game with his first mixtape “The Come Up” in 2007 to recording albums and going platinum with no features with his “2014 Forest Hills Drive” release in 2014, Cole is not unfamiliar with success.

Cole receives notable praise for his lyrics and production that he has had on his albums.Cole’s 2016 release “4 Your Eyez Only” has received similar praise to his previous albums for the lyricism and production on it. If there is one thing that Cole does, it is bringing a story to the surface of a record. Those stories could be about family, friends, life, and even his newly married wife.

Cole has always told a story and with “4 Your Eyez Only” it is nothing different. The album appears to come from the perspective of a close friend, but that is nor confirmed or denied by Cole himself. Throughout the lyrics of the album, you sense it could be about Cole himself; however, towards the end, those thoughts seem to falter in certain details. One example is the last song with the same title as the album, “4 Your Eyez Only.” Within this song he says,

“One day your daddy called me, told me he had a funny feeling / What he’d been dealing with lately, he wasn’t telling / I tried to pick his brains, still he wasn’t revealing / But I could feel the sense of panic in his voice, and it was chilling / he said: “Jermaine, I knew you since we was children, I never asked for nothing, when times was hard…”

These set of lyrics in the almost ten-minute song tell a chilling story about a third person close friend. This album leaves you wondering who it could be about if it is not about Cole himself. Cole often touches on themes of Black lives, growing up in poverty, and living life as a “thug.” Trying to survive in trying times while police brutality is murdering his close friends. “4 Your Eyez Only” touches on every single one of those topics and excels at each and every one of them.

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From the song “Immortal” to “Neighbors” there is not a line in a song that does not touch you in some way as a Black American in this world. In the song “Neighbors,” Cole is rapping about how the neighbors think he is selling dope. The story behind this song is that Cole rented a house in the suburbs in North Carolina for his record company (all the artists are African American) and the neighbors thought it was selling dope. The neighborhood was predominately white and eventually the SWAT team was called to his house for “investigation.” The producer of the album Elite states in a Complex interview:

“It’s also in the suburbs of a pretty wealthy neighborhood in North Carolina. So, you have, predominately, African-Americans coming in and out of this house. Ubers coming, and every once in a while you’ll see a group of us outside on the porch smoking weed. So, the neighbors started getting real paranoid.”

Cole has produced an HBO special for his previous album “2014 Forest Hills Drive” titled “J. COLE’S FOREST HILLS DRIVE: HOMECOMING” that received positive acclaim. It was a 90-minute documentary following Cole on tour visiting his hometown Fayetteville, N.C. with a positive rating of 4.4/5 on Rotten Tomatoes and 94% of the audience liking it.

Cole’s new HBO documentary titled “J. COLE: 4 YOUR EYEZ ONLY, A DREAMVILLE FILM” is looking hopeful in all respects. Unlike the previous documentary, Cole is focusing on stories from himself and others in this film, traveling around the South gathering interviews of the challenges of living in low-income and poverty while being a felon or African American. Cole is providing a platform for people who feel like they do not have one, who are feeling that anyone is not hearing them. Cole travels to Baton Rouge, Atlanta, Ferguson, Mo., in addition to his hometown.

Premiering April 15th on HBO at 10 PM, this is a must see. Cole is offering a side that we do not see in the media, a point of view of the realism of everyone else, places that do not have a voice. Cole is giving them one. If you love J. Cole and his music, this HBO documentary is something you will not want to miss.

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