“4 Your Eyez Only” is a good story with even better music. J. Cole’s album looks back on his tough childhood and an overall rough life through rap and smooth jazz songs.
This is a great album, but probably doesn’t live up to the hype. Most of the songs are stories, not just upbeat, pointless rap songs. “Deja Vu,” “Neighbors,” and “4 Your Eyez Only” are the main songs I am reviewing. I feel these three are the most important on the album.
“Deja Vu”s upbeat tempo expresses anger. The rhythm is very smooth though. Usually upbeat songs miss out on this sense of smoothness, but Cole has always done this well. In the album’s overall story, this song deals with anger and love. In fact, it’s one of only a couple on the album that convey love. The song explains how his girlfriend leaves him for other guys. Although angry, instead of whining and crying, the singer moves toward his “bigger dreams.” “Deja Vu” is a great song with mixed tones that tells a story well.
“Neighbors” is more jazz than rap. It incorporates a smooth sound, and the vocals are faster. This unevenness of the tone and vocals pull the song together. “Neighbors” is about how Cole grew up in a neighborhood where everyone suspected him of committing crimes. He talks about how his neighbors thought he was selling drugs, which, toward the end of the song, he does admit to doing. This song’s melody is my second favorite of the album.
Lastly, the song “4 Your Eyez Only” is my favorite of the album. It is also a top seller. This song is almost nine minutes long and features J. Cole rapping about his life, his family, and his daughter.
“4 Your Eyez Only” has a great melody, and the rapping is phenomenal. Cole raps about the troubles of his childhood and about how much he loves his daughter. The song is almost a timeline of his life, and he ties it together flawlessly. About getting in trouble with the law, Cole raps, “innocence disappeared by the age of eight years” and “picked
up by the family business by the age of 13, six years later was handed sentence.” He also raps about growing up in the projects: “My pops was shot up, drug related, mama addicted, so Granny raised me in projects where thugs was hanging.” Finally, he raps about how much he loves his daughter. J. Cole talks about trying to name her when he was just 19. He says, “I told her Nina, the prettiest name I could think of, for the prettiest thing my eyes have ever seen.” Cole also expresses that he wants his daughter to find a good man who isn’t like him. At the end of the song, J. Cole tells his daughter that her daddy is a good daddy because he loves her.
These three songs alone make this album worth buying. While some fans might not get as excited about the story-telling in his songs, I think it makes J. Cole unique.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.