Review Summary: J. Cole is back with what can be considered his most important album to date.
With 4 Your Eyez Only, J. Cole delivers an album that is short and to the point without sacrificing quality or impact. 4 Your Eyez Only is an album that tells a story of personal struggle, tragic losses, and new beginnings.
Cole’s tracks on this album are mostly guided by jazz infused instrumentals that include smooth, sometimes melancholic pianos as well as ethereal strings. Other tracks such as Immortal and Deja Vu offer more of a trap inspired beat structure with vocal samples and synths. The instrumentals are engaging, yet laid-back, giving the listener a chill experience without being mundane or drab.
However, the subject matter of J. Cole’s songs on this album are what make the experience so compelling. The album begins with an intro that juggles different emotions. Cole talks of how loneliness and a lack of direction in life can lead people to question if they even want to live in the first place.
We then have the two-part track called She’s Mine that talks about Cole meeting his first love and how it gives him a purpose in life. The story progresses, with Foldin Clothes being a sister track in which Cole is now married to his love and is living a happy life of Netflix, Raisin Bran with almond milk, and of course, folding clothes. Finally, She’s Mine Pt. 2 gives us what seems to be the same story as the first, as told by its similar instrumental and lyrics, but comes with a different connotation: Cole’s daughter being born. Cole’s feelings of hope and purpose come yet again, but from a father’s perspective this time.
There is also the track called Change that delves into the reality of how the hood mentality can consume you and that personal change is a matter of taking a look at yourself and making adjustments that can lead to a better life. The track takes a drastic turn at the end in which a friend of Cole is killed as a result of the hood lifestyle. This plot point returns in the title track and accompanies Cole’s message, which is addressed to either his newborn daughter or his friend's daughter according to interpretation.
Overall, 4 Your Eyez Only is the product of J. Coles narrative driven rap style coming full circle into an album that is emotionally captivating. The short track listing offers less room for filler and keeps the message in the forefront. The only track that comes across as filler is the jazz inspired Ville Mentality, but that is only a slight misstep. With an astonishing amount of replay value and a narrative that induces happiness as well as sadness, 4 Your Eyez Only could go down in Cole World history as his most important album yet.