Courtesy of Dreamville Records

December 23, 2016

TEST SPIN: J. Cole — 4 Your Eyez Only

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In all honesty, I feel let down by Eyez. As a J Cole fan since 2009’s The Warm Up, I cannot say that Eyez stacks up to his previous efforts.

Eyez has a lot going for it. The instrumentation is lush; from the strings to the trumpets one cannot fault the production quality. From the bold trap hit “Immortal” to the minimalist masterpiece on the title track to the gentle vocal-driven melodies seen on She Mine Pt.1 & 2, Eyez is both an instrumental and melodic success.

Cole also stays somewhat true to his lyrical reputation; telling stories of family, friends and strangers in the context of the ever-important issues facing the black community. “Foldin Clothes,” despite a lackluster execution, remains a heartwarming praise of a working class, non-gendered simple love. One cannot resist a smile when Cole charismatically raps: “with bananas and some almond milk/I never thought I’d see the day I’m drinking almond milk”.

However, his scope seems somewhat ambitions for a 10 track project. On Immortal Cole talks drugs and witnessing murders. Ville Mentality mentions thirsty girls, while on She’s Mine Pt. 1 he heartwarmingly swoons over a much-loved partner. While the album’s theme of fatherhood is made clear in the final track, the first half of the album seemingly dilutes Cole’s focus.

However, we can tell that this is not Cole’s most free, most sincere voice. Elite, the executive producer of the album, was quoted saying the album is mostly “from a perspective that is not J. Cole’s.” The bars seems both scarce and comparatively unmoving. One can think about the expressive power of Dreams or Love Yourz, which seem to be in a different league to much of this album (perhaps with the exception of the title track). Eyez just does not have the quantity of quality bars we have seen before, and even the better lines don’t seem to hit as hard.

Finally, the album seems unavoidably derivative. I still cannot believe that Deja Vu uses a an indiscernibly similar beat to Bryson Tiller’s Exchange, the latter of which far outlines the former. From the black and white artwork to the subject matter to the storytelling technique to the eight minute title track album closer, one cannot help but find a lot in common between Eyez and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. For someone that brilliantly criticized Drake on False Prophets (lyrically second only to the title track), Cole seems to lack an authenticity and, unfortunately, makes us doubt whether he can “hear his hold shit and… can top it”.
4 Your Eyez Only is undoubtedly a conscious, well-produced album that we will listen to many times over. But as hip hop’s savior, we all know Cole can do significantly better.

Nick Mileti is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at ncm45@cornell.edu.

  • Todd Elliott Koger

    President-Elect Donald Trump wants to enable states with dedicated grants and implementation standards related to diversity, inclusion, targeted hiring the resources necessary to spur investment in under served black neighborhoods. Stopping gun violence, revitalizing education, creating jobs, replacing substandard housing, and strengthening black families is a mandate we secured for him.

    Mr. Trump owes his victory to “predominately black Democratic strongholds” who were convinced to give him more votes than the previous Republican candidates. African Americans (like Todd Elliott Koger) convinced hundreds of thousands blacks to “boycott” the vote and/or voting “straight” Democrat. In North and West Philadelphia (Eastern PA) and Penn Hills, Allegheny County (Western PA) turnout fell 10 percent in the majority-black wards. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin turnout was down 50,000. In Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan 75,000 “Motown Voters” stayed home. Just 50,000 votes in these three states Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin decided the election.

    For “school choice” for persistently low-achieving inner city schools . . . To provide career training in high-growth industries, manufacturing, and informational technology . . . To encourage job creation, community redevelopment, and sustainable “BLACK LIFE” we need at least one “legitimate and capable” brother and/or sister in the “West Wing” of the White House to direct a “PLAN” to put black boys and girls to work removing blight and building new affordable housing.

  • Keep your garbage opinion to yourself, or next time bring some more well-thought out analysis. Thank you