J Cole’s ‘4 Your Eyez Only’: REVIEW

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Photo: Vulture

So I decided to wait a few days before conjuring up this review to Jermaine Cole’s newly released fourth studio album ‘4 Your Eyez Only’.

So you may ask why, well upon first listening to the album I realised how mellow the album was but in a good way, this is definitely a much slower and melodic paced album but has a deeper meaning resonated heavily within the carefully chosen lyrics in each song.

‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ sets the scene for the album but it’s lyrics are rather depressive, ‘I see the rain pouring down’ but the echoing trumpets, strings and bells make the song unique.

Throughout the album Cole has utilised strings accompaniments significantly particularly in songs like ‘Immortal’ and beautiful, resonating tracks like ‘She’s Mine Pt 1 & 2’.

‘She’s Mine Pt 1 & 2’  are both my personal favourites, showcasing a much slower-paced Cole with a tasteful piano accompaniment with duly incorporated strings and Cole’s vocals make for a peaceful change to the rather confronting and brutal messages of some of the previous songs.

‘She’s Mine Pt 1’ is dedicated to his wife, Melissa Heholt and then later into the album comes ‘She’s Mine Pt 2’ which is dedicated to his newly born daughter. The lyrics in both songs I guarantee will bring tears to your eyes so make sure you have a tissue box at hand.

Finally, ‘Deja Vu’ is another one of my favourites but this song is somewhat very similar to Bryson Tiller’s ‘Exchange’ particularly through the usage of the KP. & Envyi’s 1998 hit single ‘Swing My Way’. However, this will most likely be the song that will get the crowd and fans hype.

Now, there’s been much discussion surrounding the meaning behind the album’s creation. Prominently, the album incorporates themes of love, life, mass incarceration and the mortality of black men.

However many believe the album portrays the story of one of  Cole’s childhood friends, James McMillan Jr. his name is mentioned in the track ‘Change’ in which Cole makes reference to his death, additionally the Tupac influences resonate heavily combined with soulful background vocals.

Cole is a storyteller in this album, telling the narrative of McMillan’s life to his daughter, which the girl on the back cover of the album is suggested to be his daughter.

If you listen to ‘Ville Mentality’ alongside the creative warped strings you can hear a young girl talking about her father and the lasting imprint he has had on her:

“My dad, he died, he got shot cause his friend set him up.
And I didn’t go to his funeral..and sometimes when I’m in my room, I get mad at my momma when she mean to me.
And she..and she say, clean up..I say..”

Then Cole interludes with rap:

Nigga play me, never
Give up my chain, never
Give up my pride, never
Show my pain, never
Dirt on my name, never
Dirt on my name, never
Dirt on my name, never
Dirt on my name, never

The song then concludes with the young girl saying ‘I say… I wish my dad was here.‘ Ending the song in this way really resonated with me, showing that at the end of the day love overpowers all hate and brutality.

The photograph of the girl on the back of the album was taken by photographer, Anthony Supreme, he told Genius that the album’s photographs can be interpreted in many ways.

jcole-back-of-album

“There are so many standpoints you can see it from,” Supreme said, “Cole is speaking to the youth – this is for your eyes only – for the black youth, and how we all are kids at some point and we really don’t know nothing about the reality we live in.”

 Some may like and some may hate this album but I think this album really shows Cole in his true light, raw and real. One thing I have taken away from this album is that it is not just one focused on producing a hit single more importantly it’s about telling a story, spreading a message and exposing reality.

‘4 Your Eyez Only’ is now available for purchase on Itunes, click here for more.

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