Late last night, J. Cole dropped his fourth studio album, 4 Your Eyez Only. It's an exploration of his newly-found role as a father, race relations, and what it means to be a good person in modern society. Taken together, the record is a solid addition to Cole's catalog—it will take some time to assess its value, but it's absolutely worth taking a listen (or, more likely, many listens).
Cole's on his grown man shit—more mature and not concerned with keeping up with the stereotypical rapper persona. The content on this record is a mix between the perspective of the hustler friends he grew up around and his current family man lifestyle, juxtaposed to marvel at how far he and those closest to him have come; something he touches on in "Neighbors."
You have to respect his approach—this will likely earn him another platinum plaque without any features. And, as with any rapper worth listening to, the first thing to listen for are the bars. Check out J. Cole's 10 Best Lines on 4 Your Eyez Only.
1. "4 Your Eyez Only"
Line: "Don't know if I ever had a chance/At a glance, I'm a failure/Addicted to pushing paraphernalia/But Daddy had dreams once, my eyes had a gleam once/Innocence disappeared by the age of eight years"
This tibit doesn't do the song justice. Please play the whole thing and try not to get choked up, especially if you're familiar with the lifestyle he's rapping about.
Line: "Some things you can't escape/Death, taxes, NRA/It's this society that make/Every nigga feel like a candidate/For a Trayvon kinda fate/Even when your crib sit on a lake/Even when your plaques hang on a wall/Even when the President jam your tape"
As a wise man once said, "Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe."
Line: "Numb the pain 'cause it's hard for a felon/In my mind I been cryin', know it's wrong but I'm sellin'/Eyes wellin' up with tears/Thinkin' 'bout my niggas dead in the dirt/Immortalized on this shirt"
This track is arguably the album's strongest. We hustle to eat, not to stunt. And then when you come home from that bid, all there is to do is hustle because no one's going to hire a felon.
Line: "Eyes wide that's from the power that the coward feels/Niggas die over bitches disrespecting dollar bills/Bloodshed that turned the city to a battlefield/I call it poison, you call it real"
"Hard" and "real" have multiple meanings in the streets, and sometimes people let they're pride get in the way instead of doing the right thing. Whoever said illegal was the easy way out?
5. "She's Mine, Pt. 1"
Line: "I wanna tell the truth to you/I wanna talk about my days as a youth to you/Exposing you to all my demons and the reasons I'm this way/I would like to paint a picture, but it'll take more than a day"
Love is a motherfucker.
6. "She's Mine, Pt. 2"
Line: "People ask me how I did this shit/I'm gon' do a humble stunt act like I meant this shit/That's the ego taking credit for what God made/Fuck this album shit, hey mama look what God made"
Nothing like bringing another life into this world to bring some clarity and purpose.
Line: "I been buildin' me a house back home in the south, ma/Won't believe what it's costin'/And it's fit for a king, right?/Or a nigga that could sing and explain all the pain that it cost him/My 16 should've came with a coffin/Fuck the fame and the fortune—well, maybe not the fortune/But one thing is for sure though, the fame is exhaustin'"
This is Cole's approach in a nutshell. No need to partake in the glitz and glamor that come with fame. Who cares?
8. "She's Mine, Pt. 1"
Line: "It would take more than some years to get all over all my fears/Preventing me from letting you see all of me perfectly clear/The same wall that's stopping me/From letting go and shedding tears/From the lack of having father, and the passing of my peers"
Line: "I just apply this economics/My business ain't got the suit and tie/Keep a pistol at all times, niggas want what's mine/I can't oblige, dawg, I work too hard/So reach for it, get referred to God"
This is a jam. The beat is dope and the content is strong. Cole was floating when he spitting this particular line, had to acknowledge it.
Line: "Now I was barely 17 with a pocket full of hope/Screamin', 'Dollar and a dream!' With my closet lookin' broke/And my nigga's lookin' clean, gettin' caught up with that dope/Have you ever served a fiend with a pocket full of soap?"
Well, have you? To cop a dime of some piff, a Dutch, and a snackbox from the chicken spot?