Once again, a brand new J. Cole album has been silently announced, and is upon us, only 8 days from now. Not a word uttered from Jermaine himself. Following yet another late wake up, i got the news earlier on this afternoon, via a message from a comrade of mine on WhatsApp, showing a screenshot from Instagram with a photo of the album cover for 4 Your Eyez Only featured in it.
Now, instantly, i thought: ‘There’s no way he’s dropping his album on 9th December again. Two years after 2014 Forest Hills Drive just seems too good to be true, to me.’ Honestly, i thought that we were being trolled (there was a tweet two days ago by somebody who hacked into ScHoolboy Q’s Twitter, saying that Cole & Kendrick [Lamar] were going to finally drop the joint LP — causing much speculation (for fans especially) yet again. Oh, and his writing looks very similar to whoever’s writing is on the cover for We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (A Tribe Called Quest’s actual last album).
· Cole, for a good three years+ now, has been using ‘z’ on the end of his title tracks (“Rich Niggaz,” “Niggaz Know,” “Lil’ Niggaz,” “Wet Dreams,” “A Tale of 2 Citiez,” “No Role Modelz,” “Love Yourz”), the titling for this LP didn’t really come as a surprise to me at all; being that he’s made it clear over the years that he is an avid ‘pac fan, it seems he’s definitely following in suit.
· i actually saw a tweet today, from @princess_simba (the girl who had Cole attend her graduation), who showed a picture of the letter Cole sent her before the grad’; with focus on the top part, where the words read were actually ‘4 Your Eyes Only’. So, is he going down even more of a cryptic path in how he approaches the releases of his work these days (his last LP also appeared out of nowhere, or “out the sky” — only through a banner, rather than a pre-order link, which shortly after also appeared)? Is this now just his standard procedure? But then, funnily enough (as i often say)… according to Billboard, apparently the iTunes pre-order link, that had mysteriously appeared, supposedly disappeared.
· With Cole’s last album featuring nobody, and it being based on achieving that ‘happiness’, i wonder just what direction he’ll be taking next, both with his content and musically; with it being his fourth LP now.
· Does this album have any ties to/anything to do with 2014 Forest Hills Drive, being that it was said to originally be a “double album” — and so, could this effort coincide with it, since it comes two years later on.
· How can he actually top his last LP? Does he wish to? Is this next album just going to be another splodge of the paint on his pallet to be added to the canvas existing? Will we be introduced to new cadences? Does the usual subject matter die, as he progresses to something new, or does he remain within the same realm he’s been in, carrying very similar & familiar themes that we’ve grown to know by now; almost 10 years really into this ‘game’? Will Cole be departing from his past sounds, and taking an extreme stride into a more risky, experimental route; dabbling in new sonics? Production has been a big thing many have spoken on when it’s come to announcement of every Cole album [post Sideline Story] that’s been due. If there was one thing Cole was notorious for, prior to going “double platinum with no features,” it’s producing the majority of his own projects.
After Born Sinner (which entailed production handled by Jake One, Syience, Elite on Co-, and Jermaine himself), Cole began to let up on his artistic integrity and ego, allowing room for more range on the sound to invade his space and bodies of work. Pop & Oak, Vinylz, Cardiak, !llmind, Phonix, Ron Gilmore (assisting) all took part and had a hand in crafting FHD. This, of course, brings me to ponder on the obvious: who has produced for this LP? Some example of producers i’d have liked Cole to work with, are: Organized Noize, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Q-Tip, DJ Dahi (who provided the beat for “No Role Modelz”), Hit-Boy, Flying Lotus, Timberland, Mike Dean, & Madlib, just to keep the list short and to minimal. We know Cole can produce heat, as he’s proven he is more than capable… But, please; more variety? Way less limitations. We know what you can do on beats, ‘maine… or do you have more in store for us that we’re not hip to, nor [are] we even ready for. One thing that i am all for, though, is the album having 10/11 tracks only, which should mean and make for a focused effort. Super glad he’s decided to cut down the amount. This, i think, could be his most musical piece, where it’s focused on just the listening, rather than the visuals; and is potent enough in words that it will “paint a picture that’s vivid enough to kill blindness. Carolina’s Finest,” correct? But then again, i can’t help but think we may be in for a visual-oriented album (look at the album cover, for instance; the two colour patches, and just a simple nuance such as it depicting him looking at something; we can’t see his face… is he trying to take us through what he sees? maybe i’m looking a little too deep into it — but i don’t think it’s something to ignore; i very much doubt so, in fact. like [Quentin] Tarrantino, he leaves room for thought… but fills in the gaps. Cole does things with a purpose. Perhaps we should be closely paying attention to the details and concentrating on what he says. It’s nothing new if he really has something to say, but if so, then — what could it be?).
· Though the competition is nada to him, with the position that he’s gained; the seat he’s sitting on (even if there are “no more kings”), and other albums set to release, can he blow others out of the water? Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love and Smoke DZA x Pete Rock’s Don’t Smoke Rock are both out tomorrow. KiD CuDi’s Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ is out two weeks from tomorrow. Post Malone’s Stoney, too, drops on the 9th. And then, Drake’s More Life is due any time this month now. Is he looking to crush the competition before and following him? It’s not exactly like 2016 has been a weak year for music, musically (npi). Is Cole trying to scoop a strong contending spot for AOTY at the last minute? Plus, it’s not even like he has to put an album out and is doing so for the sake of it.
It all gives me nothing but so many questions (like above). No doubts so much. It’s more so my concern for his legacy as an artist. Is it too soon? Does he feel the pressure to drop (even though i’m sure he knows he doesn’t need to)? Guess we’ll find out this time next week. Though my points may sound critical, i speak only as a fan who wants the best — so, don’t you ever get it twisted.
To say that i was thinking suicidally early this morning, to now come to the fact —as i (again) predicted [either the following, or that him & K. Dot actually would release the ting — he’s dropping an album, shows me that there is hope. my prayers were answered yet again. Thank you once again, Cole, for blessing me the day before my birthday. First it was coming to Birmingham to perform as part of tour What Dreams May Come Tour. Then it was 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Revenge of the Dreamers II (which was on the 8th, so two days before — but still!). And then lastly — this. It’s reminded me that there’s always hope, and always blessings whenever i least expect them. WDMC, right? Good thing i wore my T-shirt from the tour, then (edit note, 02:33—34 a.m. | 02/12/2016: wearing it again right now — who knows what dreams may come true this sleep, eh? [smurk emoji]).
… Cole World, but hopefully the music, again, will keep us warm this winter, huh. From Friday Night Lights (still standing as your strongest to date) up to now, it’s evident you don’t play; and you ain’t let the ‘villains down just yet… i trust you — and trust that you don’t intend on doing so anytime soon either.