The Real Is Back: J. Cole ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ Review

Jermaine Cole better known as J. Cole or as I like to call him, Coley Cole, has finally returned with another featureless album following his double-platinum-with-no-features third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Today, well last night at approximately 11:10pm (pre-order drop status), Cole dropped his fourth studio album, 4 Your Eyez Only.

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If you know me you know I have been waiting foreverrrr for the return of the real. I pre-ordered the album as soon as news broke and have probably listened to the album, at minimum, 10 times since it dropped!

Peep the featureless album tracklist below available for streaming via Spotify and Apple Music:

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(Full credits available via Dreamville)

Now let’s get into this review…

I am currently in a place of appreciating this project and being a little underwhelmed. In my opinion his sophomore album, Born Sinner, was better. With only ten songs, 4 Your Eyez Only is short and seems unfinished. Especially compared to his former work. Coming from a Cole STAN, this was not his best work and I’m not afraid to say it. I despise folks who are unable to give their honest opinion on an artist’s work because they love them so much and feel like it’s some sort of betrayal to say anything that isn’t perceived as positive. Just as Cole called out Wale in “False Prophets”–my criticism isn’t coming from a place of hate but from a place of love and appreciation for someone and knowing there’s greater in them.

No doubt, the production for 4 Your Eyez Only is great. The musical arrangements are dope and his making-of documentary, Eyez, has allowed me to appreciate the production even more seeing all that went into the album. Although skimping on songs, the album delivers on production and story telling. If you listen closely to the lyrics, or you could just visit Genius, he tells an incredible story. According to Genius, “The album follows the story of a fictional character, James McMillian Jr, as he goes from selling crack, to falling in love and starting a family. In the final track, it is revealed that James has died, and almost the whole album is a tape he created for his daughter to listen to after he’s gone.”

After listening to the album a number of times, I’m stuck waiting and wanting more. I feel like I needed more..maybe in the delivery of his lyrics, maybe in more tracks, maybe in his tone, not sure what it is but something feels like it’s missing. However, 4 Your Eyez Only is definitely an album that grows on you. I was mad at first that “False Prophets” and “Everybody Dies,” which were debuted in the Eyez documentary, didn’t make the cut. However, neither one of the songs would have fit into the story Cole painted for this album. Maybe he’ll drop a mixtape at a later date that will include them or maybe he won’t. You never know with Coley Cole. Until then…

Favorite Songs:

Deja Vu, Change, Neighbors, Foldin Clothes, 4 Your Eyez Only

Notable lyrics:

“People ask me how I did this shit/I’m gon’ do a humble stunt act like I meant this shit/Thats the ego taking credit for what God made” – She’s Mine, Pt. 2

“Yeah, my intuition is telling me they’ll be better days/I sit in silence and and find whenever I meditate/My fears alleviate, my tears evaporate/My faith don’t deviate, ideas don’t have a date/But see I’m growing and getting stronger with every breath” – Change

“Black in a white man territory/Cops bust in with the army guns/No evidence of the harm we done/Just a couple neighbors that assume we slang/Only time they see us we be on the news in chains, damn” – Neighbors

Repeat value:

4.125/5

Let me know your thoughts on the album in the comments below!

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