Although many Americans argue that 2016 was one of the worst years, it was undeniably a monumental year for music. Album after album dropped from popular rap/R&B artists like Childish Gambino, Russ, and Frank Ocean, to name a few. On Dec. 9, J. Cole released his album 4 Your Eyez Only, the album that’s still climbing the charts to number one.
Cole set the bar high with his successful debut last year 2014 Forest Hills Drive. The album was honored with the Billboard Music Award for Top Rap Album, a Grammy, and an American Music Award. This legendary album is also known for going “double platinum with no features”. Cole produced each track solo, propelled to success with just his talent alone. With the amount of praise J. Cole received, it’s no wonder his expectant fans received his 2016 album with such high expectations.
J. Cole fanatics were not let down with his new addition, and the majority of the ten tracks on the album are hits. This particular set-list aims at bringing social issues to light, including his top song, “4 Your Eyez Only”. Cole dedicated the song to his friend who passed away, James McMillian, Jr. By singing a message to McMillian’s young daughter, the song is definitely a more somber and emotional piece, and matches the personal level which Cole reaches on this album.
Another J. Cole chart-topper includes “Neighbors”, which introduces the stereotype that African Americans living in bad areas are doomed to an incriminated fate, where they resort to drug dealing as the only way to become financially successful. Although J. Cole’s rise to affluency has allowed him to move out of the “hood” environment, it does not mean he has moved on, or forgotten about those who are still struggling in it.
Aside from the lyrics that mention social injustice, Cole still manages to include some more light-hearted songs. “Foldin’ Clothes”, his third most listened to song (and a personal favorite), talks about relationships. A repeating line, “I wanna fold clothes for you” is so simple and pure but conveys a sense of commitment to a girl. That single line alone is such a refreshing break from the typical hook-up type content of other songs in this genre. “Foldin’ Clothes” even has some comedic bars: “Eating breakfast, Raisin Bran in my bowl with bananas and some almond milk–I never thought I’d see the day I’m drinking almond milk”.
No matter their taste in music, “4 Your Eyez Only” is a rap enigma that can find its way into just about anyone’s playlist due to its depth and overall appeal. Good luck topping this one next year, J. Cole.