Yesterday was full of surprises for J. Cole fans. After iTunes let the cat out of the bag about his new album —4 Your Eyez Only, dropping December 9 — Cole ramped up the excitement last night by releasing a new documentary on Tidal called Eyez.
The 40-minute film sheds some light on what we can expect from this top secret album. We see Cole holed up at New York’s famous Electric Lady Studios, tinkering away with his highly anticipated 2014 Forest Hills Drive follow-up. From strings and organs to bass guitar and brass, it’s immediately apparent 4 Your Eyez Only incorporates plenty of live instrumentation alongside Cole’s crispy production.
As for the album’s lyrical content, J. Cole’s got a few things to get off his chest. The documentary includes two new songs (and videos) from 4 Your Eyez Only, which are riddled with subliminal shots.
On “Everybody Dies,” a warm, crunchy joint that samples Minnie Ripperton’s “Inside My Love” (which A Tribe Called Quest famously flipped on “Lyrics to Go”), Cole goes in on “fake deep rappers,” “short bus rappers” and “Pitchfork rappers” — basically half the rap game. This is a one-size-fits-all shoe that would slide comfortably on the feet of Drake, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert — take your pick.
The second album cut, “False Prophets,” appears towards the end of the documentary, and there are no prizes for guessing who Cole is talking about on this one. Borrowing Joey Bada$$’s “Waves” beat (which, despite being a gorgeous instrumental, is kind of a bizarre move for your studio album), Cole dedicates his entire first verse to Kanye West.
“Yeah, life is a balance / You lose your grip, you can slip into an abyss / No doubt you see these n*ggas trippin’ / Ego in charge of every move, he’s a star / And we can’t look away due to the days that he caught our hearts / He’s fallin’ apart, but we deny it / Justifying that half-ass shit he dropped, we always buy it / When he tell us he a genius but it’s clearer lately / It’s been hard for him to look into the mirror lately / There was a time when this n*gga was my hero, maybe / That’s the reason why his fall from grace is hard to take / Cause I believed him when he said his shit was purer and he / The type of n*gga swear he real but all around him’s fake / The women, the dickriders, you know, the yes men / Nobody with the balls to say somethin’ to contest him / So he grows out of control / Into the person that he truly was all along, it’s startin’ to show / Damn, wonder what happened / Maybe it’s my fault for idolizing n*ggas based off the words they be rappin’ / But come to find out, these n*ggas don’t even write they shit / Hear some new style bubblin’ up, then they bite the shit / Damn, that’s what I get for lyin’ to myself / Well, fuck it, what’s more important is he’s cryin’ out for help / While the world’s eggin’ him on, I’m beggin’ him to stop / And playin’ his old shit, knowin’ he won’t top it; false prophets”
“When he tell us he a genius but it’s clearer lately”? “But come to find out, these n*ggas don’t even write they shit”? “And playin’ his old shit, knowin’ he won’t top it; false prophets”? Yeah, there’s only one (no pun intended) person Jermaine’s talking about (and to) here.
This isn’t necessarily a diss track against Ye, more of a candid critique from a long-time fan who also misses the old Kanye. It’s like West’s “Big Brother” meets André 3000’s “Solo (Reprise).” Given all that’s happened with him lately, maybe more peers calling Kanye out isn’t such a bad thing. He’s our hero — can you please remind him?
As the documentary comes to a close, we see J. Cole jumping on a bike with his earphones in and riding through the streets of New York City, just like he did in the “Intro” video off 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Eyez doesn’t answer all the questions we have about his new album, but it does pose new ones for Cole’s competition.
Watch the full documentary on Tidal now.
By Andy James. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Tidal