4 Your Eyez Only

Album: 4 Your Eyez Only (2016)
Charted: 29
  • The title track of 4 Your Eyez Only serves as a message to both J. Cole's newborn little boy and Nina the daughter of a deceased childhood friend, whom the rapper calls James McMillian, Jr.

    But Daddy had dreams once, my eyes had a gleam once
    Innocence disappeared by the age of eight years
    My Pops shot up - drug-related - mama addicted
    So Granny raised me in projects where thugs was hanging
  • According to the 4 Your Eyez Only track "Change," James McMillan Jr was a childhood friend of J. Cole who got caught up in the streets and was killed at age 22. In the first three verses on this song he raps from his friend's perspective to Nina recounting his life so she can always have an image of her father. The verses also serve as a message to Cole's new born daughter, expressing his concerns about the ways of this world. The final verse is from Cole's point of view talking to Nina directly about her late dad.

    A Dreamville source told Genius the storyline is about a real late friend of Cole's, but his name was changed to James McMillan Jr for the sake of privacy.
  • Cole repeats the phrase "for your eyes" throughout the song emphasising it is a message to his friend's daughter and his little boy. The title also recalls the North Carolina rapper's hero Tupac Shakur's 1996 album All Eyez on Me. Cole has referenced his idolization of the late legend on several occasions to the extent of comparing him to Jesus on Born Sinner's "Let Nas Down."
  • After the release of 4 Your Eyez Only, there was speculation that the whole album connects to Cole's late friend, and throughout the record he's telling Nina her father's story. Complex asked Dreamville in house producer, Elite, about the theory. He replied:

    "We saw that and it was pretty well-analyzed by whoever did that. It's pretty close to what Cole intended. There is another perspective that he is speaking from on this album, and that's what he wanted to make clear. There are moments where it parallels him and he speaks from his own perspective. 'Neighbors' is a step outside for a second, but it's still a commentary on the overall theme. But the album is largely from a perspective that is not J. Cole."
  • The album cover is by photographer Anthony Supreme. The photographer toured with the Dreamville founder for two weeks documenting Cole's writing sessions and spontaneous outings. He has a different interpretation regarding the album, telling Genius it is:

    "Cole speaking to the youth - this is for your eyes only - for the black youth, and how we all are kids at some point and we really don't know nothing about the reality that we live in."
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