Opinion, September 2017

J Cole’s latest is underappreciated

J Cole is a platinum hip hop artist and a producer with spectacular musical talent and with a discography to backup my claim. Although he is considered one of the three leaders of the new school hip hop era, many believe his music is boring or bland. Many think his rhymes are played out and the fact that he never gets hype on a track is harming his talents instead of separating him from the group.

Although many people deny his talent, one thing they must agree on is Jermaine Cole is an amazing storyteller. With songs like “Lost Ones” and “03 Adolescence,” he has made his mark as one of the best storytellers the industry has ever seen.

Over the span of J Cole’s career, he has released four studio albums. “Cole world: Sideline Story,” “Born Sinner,” “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” and “4 Your Eyez Only.”

With “2014 Forest Hills Drive” going double platinum, many would consider it his best work by far. “Born Sinner” and “Cole World: The Sideline Story” are also among many people’s favorite albums due to it featuring many artist like Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, and Mary J. Blige.

But, the one album that is usually overlooked is “4 Your Eyez Only,” which few say is their favorite and has the least amount of sales among J Cole’s albums. Maybe it’s due to the fact that the album has no featured artists, is kind of a gloomy project, or has an eight minute song. Or maybe people are just tired of listening to music that is more raw, and story-based.

The album dropped Dec. 9, 2017, and it sold 363,000 copies within its first couple of weeks. And has been doing OK ever since. This number may seem good, but compared to J Cole’s competitors’ albums that dropped within the same time span, it could have been better.

With songs like “ Change”, “Neighbors”, and “4 Your Eyez Only,” the album was filled with, tough, emotional and honest material. I believe the album has many things people missed and don’t understand; that’s why it’s overlooked. For example, “Immortal” is about people hustling to get money, while also avoiding the cops. It’s from the perspective of the struggle a man in the projects must go through to make it.

In the chorus, it says “Real n***as don’t die. Forward with the plot. One-seven-forty-five, form at the plot.” The album itself is J Cole speaking to his newborn daughter, but also to Nina, the daughter of his friend James, who is dead. In this particular chorus, J Cole is telling you to skip seventeen minutes and forty five seconds into the album.

If you do so, you land right into the middle of another emotional song entitled “Change.” When you go to that song and go to the right spot, J Cole describes the murder of his friend James. This is a big part of the album and sets the tone for the next, and main song, “4 Your Eyez Only.”

This song is J Cole telling a story from his friend James’ perspective. From talking about his life growing up, to him telling J Cole he felt his life was going to end soon. Unfortunately, it did, and J Cole tells the rest of the story, from his perspective, to James’ daughter.

This whole album is full of meaningful and beneath-the-surface messages. It shows how real life can get, and it’s all done through song. I didn’t even go into everything and break down all the specific amazing details about this album.

Once people start to notice this and notice the real message and how smart this whole album is, it will be recognized as one of the, if not the, best works of his career.

— Joshua Porter