Lyrics make J Cole’s latest also his greatest

By Ben Boezinger

Jermaine Cole has been quiet since the release of his last studio album in 2014, until about two weeks ago when the rap/hip hop world was set ablaze with the surprise announcement of a new story album, “For Your Eyes Only.”

It follows the life of J Cole’s best friend, who has an almost identical storyline. It starts with not wanting to live anymore. He’s tired of what’s going on in the world and how it’s treated him, but then he meets the love of his life and everything does a 180.

The album’s mood quickly changes from slow and gloomy to fast paced and exuberant.

Then he has a kid and that changes everything. The album moves to talk about trying to survive in the ghetto and providing for his family.

In the final song of the album, you can now see the difference as J Cole starts to narrate the dying wish of his friend. He wants Jermaine to tell his story, the good and the bad after he’s long gone and his daughter Nina is ready to listen and comprehend the life of her late father.

J Cole’s strong suit has always been his storytelling and expressive narration ability. In every song on the album, this is apparent. From the intro “From Whom the Bell Tolls” to “She’s mine Part 1&2,” but this album isn’t one you can just listen to. To really enjoy the album you have to dig into the lyrics.

J Cole’s songs are like the ocean. You can sit on the beach, hear the waves crash and smell the lingering scent of fish in the air, but to see its full beauty, you must put on some gear and dive deep. You can’t see the colors of the coral and the scales of the tropical fish if you just sit above the water.

The album starts off with For Whom the Bell Tolls. It touches on J Cole’s contemplation of hopelessness and suicide. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is also a novel by Ernest Hemingway that touches on the ideas of suicide and death, and J Cole’s intro song is basically a current version of that book. Immortal touches on the ideas of death and the trouble that arises as the African American society has broken out of the ghetto. He mentions that the only way that they can make it out is by becoming a famous rapper, professional basketball player or drug dealer on the street.

“Deja Vu” is probably the most appealing song on the album, mostly to people who just listen to listen. The song is about a conversation with a girl whom he is attracted to at first sight. Although the song is one of the best on the album, it does come with some controversy. The original beat that Cole uses for the song has been reportedly stolen from many other producers. No one really knows who originally made the beat first, but all I can say is that with or without controversy, this song is still one of Cole’s best.

“Ville Mentality” is about leaving town for a better opportunity after J Cole left his hometown Fayetteville, N.C. It’s about how you have to leave home to find out you truly love it.

The fifth song on the album, “She’s Mine Pt. 1,” is about Jermaine and his friends first real love. Since both their stories share so many similarities, it’s narrated by Cole, but it’s about his friend. Love, marriage and dedication are the main themes in the song, and for the remainder of the album. “Foldin’ Clothes,” which is one of my personal favorites on the album, is about doing anything he can to help make his wife’s life easier. It’s about an unbreakable loving bound that is held together by love and willingness to do anything for each other.

“She’s Mine Pt. 2” is the most emotional and conceptional track on the list. Cole dives deep into his relationship between himself, his wife and his daughter. For the first half of the song, it’s about the loving relationship with his wife. It goes into detail on why she completes him and makes him the best person he can be. The second half goes into how corrupt society is, from the economical sham that is Black Friday to the black on black crime that plagues societies, but there is one thing he sees while hovering over his daughter, looking deep into her eyes: hope.

The final track of the album acts as almost a tell all. It’s like a letter to his daughter, but it describes his whole life, including his relationship with his childhood friend who was never named. As the song keeps going, he actually reveals that it was a biography about his friend’s life, and not his own. Their lives run parallel to each other, the only difference being that Cole got out of the hood and his friend failed to.

“For Your Eyes Only” is a great conceptional album and the best concept that Cole has put out yet. Although it will not be enough to really tide me over until Jermaine pops up from out of the dark in two or so years. I wish that there was more songs on the release, but the 10 will do for now. J Cole continues to show why he’s the best on the East Coast with his fourth studio album, and it makes me a whole lot more excited for his next album, which may never even come out.

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