J. Cole has always struggled with fame. I don’t know if he doesn’t want to be a star or if he’s just concerned about the pitfalls that come with celebrity. But in his latest album he mixes being a rap-tivist with trying to understand how his stardom is never enough to spare him from his blackness.
The album, for the most part, is a collection of songs that take direct aim at police brutality, mass incarceration (particularly of people of color) and pretty much all other issues plaguing black folk. “Immortal” is a great example of this as it pays homage to those lost to gun violence.
He takes a bit of a turn to talk about love in “She’s Mine Pt 1” and “She’s Mine Pt 2” where he rhymes about (we’re assuming) his new wife and longtime love, Melissa Heholt. It’s always encouraging to hear a rapper talk about his lady in such high regard. Something that J has rapped about in the past is the is struggle as a rapper to not play into the misogyny of his trade (see: “Before I started calling bitches ‘bitches’ so easily”)
With “For Your Eyez Only” J. Cole is on the way to establishing himself among the Kendricks and Commons (content-wise) as a conscious rapper. Though I love him, I still think he can do better. But that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a solid album.
Must Listens: “Exchange,” “Déjà vu” & “Immortal”