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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 October 2018

Album review: 4 Your Eyez Only by J Cole focuses on the fragility of life

J Cole's latest offering is an intimate one full of frustration and desperation.
4 Your Eyez Only by J Cole.
4 Your Eyez Only by J Cole.

4 Your Eyez Only

J Cole

(Dreamville)

Four stars

J Cole’s latest album is an intimate one. It unfolds like an old journal, unearthed and shared with an audience of one: you – or, more importantly, the daughter of a friend whose shooting death ties the rapper’s latest set together.

On Change, he narrates the final moments in the life of James McMillan Jr, killed at the age of 22. The fragility of life – particularly that of young black men too often felled by violence – shapes the frustration and desperation that permeates the album.

Low on frills (production or otherwise), and rich with introspection, the Grammy nominee’s fourth studio album may not immediately resonate with listeners anticipating one to match the buzz surrounding Cole’s alleged digs at Kanye West on False Prophets.

What is clear now is that this was less about throwing rocks at the throne and more about disappointment over a fallen hero. Cole is over fakeness.

The album opens ominously, with Cole facing his own mortality on For Whom the Bell Tolls. But for all the looming dangers, he has hope. He is unguarded and in love on the delicate She’s Mine, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2. The title track is the finale, and in it he relays a heartfelt, frank message from McMillan to his daughter. The meandering, jazz-tinged track is tragic, touching, wise, and a little bit sleepy – everything that the album is.

* Associated Press