4 Your Eyes Only - J.Cole
Written by Stephanie Tacy
J. Cole is known for creating albums that tell a fluid story. In 4 Your Eyes Only, Cole crafts the story of a drug dealer's life on the streets over 90s inspired beats. The soft music and chill vibes, allow you to easily feel the impact of the loaded verses.Throughout the album Cole takes on the persona of a young man trying to rise out of poverty passing milestones such as having a daughter. Though there are theories that the story is of one of Cole’s late friends, it could also be a tribute to the many young men who have met a similar fate. With a rise in Police brutality and the demand for violence in general to halt, this album is released in good timing. It shows the impact the loss of these young lives has not just on the community but on his/her own family unit.
The album begins with a somber intro“For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Feelings of hopelessness are exposed as the main character has reached a point where he feels trapped. The story of how he reached this point is exposed throughout the rest of the album. As the story unfolds you get to see the truth in the character in “Ville Mentality” as he contemplates how much longer he can live this way. In “She’s Mine Part 1” the character finally finds happiness as he finds the love of his life. Along with “She’s Mine Part 2” the softer side of the character is exposed. Between meeting the love of his life and then having a daughter his views on life have changed. He wants to be better for them. It makes you wonder if he had been given a little bit more time if his fate would have been the same.
In the last song “4 Your Eyes Only”, Cole breaks character and begins reading a note left from the father.The words were those her dad wanted read to her if he met an untimely demise. The lines discuss the paranoia of the father as he knew his time was coming soon but they also show the undeniable love for the daughter and the hopes he has for her future.
J Cole does a beautiful job crafting this story allowing both outsider and insider perspectives. Though the album is beautifully crafted the songs do not hold their own when taken out of the album context. For that reason this album is ranked at a4.3 out of 5.