We saw the switch from a more rap driven Born Sinner to the more melodic Forest Hills Drive. Stylistically, this album builds on the Forest Hills Drive foundation. 4 Your Eyez Only features some of J.Cole's most intimate interpretations of love, fatherhood, identity, poverty, and success. I truly admire what J.Cole is doing on this project. Boldly challenging modern day radio, J.Cole has established his platform and can express his creativity without limits. This album is a work of art. There are bars here but this project is more about the emotion. In today's musical soundscape, what separates Rap and R&B is a line drawn in the sand on a windy day.
Track 1 (For Whom The Bell Tolls) opens the album in a melodic / jazzy vibe. J. Cole is by no means a singer but you can feel the emotion in his vocal performance. This track brilliantly lays down the foundation of the album. Immortal and Deja Vu bring us back to the lyricism that J.Cole is known for and then its on to the next moment on the project. Vile Mentality. Another display of J.Cole's vocal performance. An emotional song based on a heavy topic balance only by the fucks that J.Cole generously GIVES.
This is social commentary on a contemporary scale.
The album then goes into the first major interlude and breadth of the album: She's Mine Pt.1 He's in love. Again, more vocal performance. Change, Neighbors and Foldin Clothes provide a glimpse into Cole's day to day. Foldin Clothes is probably going to get released as a single.
This is ear candy to the single women who are tired of the supposed: "games men play"
He's playing to the ideal of companionship. Its not my favorite track on the project but I know there is going to be a video that wins us over. She's Mine pt.2 captures the emotion of a new father in a way unlike anything I have ever heard in Hip Hop. This is that intimacy that I mentioned earlier. Its a beautiful song and for me it was the strongest moment in the project. The title track ends the album on a lyrical note with J.Cole narrating a story about a fathers last words to his daughter all while stringing up all the themes of the project. Its the perfect conclusion and really reaffirms the "why" of this project.
There is a strong air of maturity in this project. It shows in a bold and unapologetic way. It's easy to drown in the bottomless sea of "trap" and "turn-up" records on the radio. This project feels like a breath of fresh air. Moreover, this album has more in common with a novel than a rap album... and that's a good thing. The one thing that did annoy me about this project was the fact that False Profits was not in the track listing. This album only had 10 tracks on it, and half of them were soul ballads which bring me to my last issue with this project. J.Cole could have given us more bars. I am an advocate of artists approaching projects differently but I feel like J.Cole missed a perfect opportunity to simply give his core what they've been waiting on for the last 2 years. BARZ. As a fan of J.Cole I was hoping for a Born Sinner experience rather than a Forest Hills Drive. That said, 4 Your Eyez Only has so much to offer and I enjoyed every bit of it.