J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only Album Is Great For The Ears Too. (Audio)

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This morning (December 9), J. Cole released his fourth album, 4 Your Eyez Only. The 10-track, 44 minute effort features no guest verses. This feat is also true of Cole’s double-platinum #1 2014 Forest Hills Drive, released two years ago today.

Approaching his 32nd birthday next month, 4 Your Eyez… is an interesting report from where J. Cole’s life is, and where his thoughts on current events are. “She’s Mine Pt. 1” and “She’s Mine Pt. 2” are mature, openhearted takes on love and fatherhood. Cole speaks from a place in the first, of finding the ultimate partner. In the second, the song finds a typical self-involved young man, and prioritizes purpose quite differently. “Foldin Clothes” stays in this realm. The MC/producer’s song celebrates the mundane time spent with his partner. From almond milk in the cereal to Netflix and napping, this record may be a bonding fit for Cole’s extensive female and male audiences. For those a bit earlier in those stages, “Deja Vu” is another trademark J. Cole seduction jam.

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For listeners seeking Jermaine’s introspection, “Immortal” is highly charged up. This is as close to Gangsta Rap as the Roc Nation star can get. The song tiptoes through a nightmare, while also finding the courage to live in treacherous circumstances. The idea of living forever despite such dangerous situations is examined in 2016 stakes and terms. “Neighbors” follows the Dreamville founder home. The North Carolina artist who has lived in New York City for much of his career chronicles the racism and judgement he feels at home. The MC states that he keeps a home away from the lights and posturing, driving simple cars instead of posing. However, even then he is believed to be “selling dope.” Some of the most grabbing production on the album uses a Screw chorus, as Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky also do frequently. Reconsidering the suburban assumption, J. Cole looks at his abilities and agrees that he is selling dope, even if he probably needs to find more understanding neighbors for a successful, self-employed Black man in 2016.

Cole’s fourth album focuses on life points. Jermaine has survived, while many of his peers have not. He brings them with him on 4 Your Eyez Only. Perhaps that is why “Immortal” feels to be subversive at its heart, even if the verses understand the youth mentality. Every song has its message. The songwriter is as sharp as ever, without taking himself so seriously.  That is also why love (seemingly above simply sex) takes on a new role. J. Cole is ready for the next step in his life. He’s already taken one in music.

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From announcement to release, J. Cole needed less than 10 days to put his trademark on the face of 2016 Hip-Hop. Without guests, elaborate marketing, and the two controversial videos he released missing the album, J. Cole appears set on earning his crown and his glory as earnestly as possible. 4 Your Eyez Only should be remembered as a turning point album in the life of the artist, as the art continues to flourish.