The rap scene has recently been dry, with the only hits coming out in the last month or so being Ooouuu by Young M.a. and Fake Love by Drake. Until now, that is. J. Cole makes a return with 4 Your Eyes Only and here’s how some of the songs rank.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
To anyone looking for a sound to blast when you plug in the aux cord in the car with your friends, this isn’t the song for it. Sure it has a great beat, and it’s lyrics are extremely telling, this isn’t for everybody. For those who it is for, though, the ‘telling lyrics’ mention earlier are really something. J. Cole’s introduction to 4 Your Eyes Only touches on his inner hopelessness and sadness. He feels trapped, as seen by the lyric “The bells getting loud, ain’t nowhere to hide. Got nowhere to go, put away my pride.” This dark tone makes the beat and music behind it seem less like it has real groove and more of a “lull”, putting you in his depressed mindset. The occasional trumpet heard throughout the song gives it away for me. After listening to a lot of Chance the Rapper’s album Coloring Book it’s clear that he is very positive, with vivid trumpets backing uplifting lyrics and tones, and pretty prominently at that. In this, however, it seems like the positive sides of Cole’s mind are trying to save him, but are shot down by the overwhelming negativity. It’s a deep song, for a deep album, and an important sign of things to come.
While not as negative as “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “Immortal” still has quite a few dark undertones to it. He lets audience know his deep and dark thoughts right as the song begins, discussing his childhood and it’s destruction through drugs and the deaths of his friends. He then transitions into the chorus, which seems to send the message of how he never forgets his old friends and what they went through, and how they’ve changed him. That’s until the song keeps going. He transitions into discussing his growth as music has given him a objects that those old friends dreamed of: wealth, fame, women, and so on. He then contemplates his own death, and whether or not it would finally allow his true messages to be heard so he can make a difference in the world. In his mind, his options now are either that or to live on, and for him to become old and stale like other artists, bought out by corporations and paparazzi for a quick and big check. Once again, the beat matches the tone very well, and on its own, it’s pretty good. It’s a great album so far, being very deep in it’s meaning and I could get into this very fast.
Now this is something different. “Deja Vu” is the kind of song I think of when I think J. Cole. The beat is extremely catchy, the lyrics are amazing, it brings a different angle to a common topic discussed, that topic being getting girls, and it pays off in spades. The song revolves around a girl that Cole has his eyes set on, essentially asking to give a small town guy like him a chance. What’s interesting here is that there’s not many sexual themes here. Of course, they’re in it a little bit, I mean, it IS a rap song, but it’s not the most distracting thing.
The rest of the album has great songs just like these three. The further the record goes on, the more hope is filled throughout each song. While it’s not for everybody, ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ is a surprisingly deep album that has song really great hits that might deserve a place on your playlist.