Even though 4 Your Eyez Only isn’t one of my favorite releases from J. Cole. The documentary gives new perspective on where his mind was while making this album as well as the message he was trying to get across. The documentary starts off in Louisiana where an older lady is trying to rebuild the interior of her house after a flood. She speaks on how she has to do it herself because “they” (the government) are not going to help. In fact the help she did receive came in the form of a $86 check.
“I’m going to take care of this myself,” the lady said. “Because, see I know me, I’m going to do it. I can’t depend on those people.”
This scene sets the tone for the documentary. In 4 Your Eyez Only, it’s not J. Cole trying to get his story out, he’s trying to get other people’s stories out. So he’s going to many poor and disenfranchised neighborhoods in the south and talking to the people to get their ideas on how to move forward despite the hopelessness around them. He films the people talking among themselves about the issues and trying to figure out solutions. The documentary give a voice to the voiceless and humanizes people that are demonized in the media.
Something that stuck out to me about it was the subject of faith. Out of all the randomness of going to these different places and talking to these different people, faith was the thing that kept the people going. There were moments of pure randomness, like J. Cole running into the brother of police killing victim, Mike Brown. Mike Brown’s brother spoke about receiving a text message from Brown the day before he died. Brown messaged that people around the world would know his name. Unknowingly, Brown prophesied his future. People would know his name, just not for his music like he hoped. But for being the victim of a police shooting that sparked protests all around the country.
Then there was a lady getting off work only to be going to her next job. Which is only one job of three. But the lady told Cole about how she lost two of her children but yet she still finds the strength to keep smiling.
“God has me here for a reason,” said the lady. “So many of us are hurting and we’re confused, and we’re angry, and we’re just doing anything…because we don’t know which way to turn. But God is the answer.”
For J. Cole to take his time to magnify these places, people, and their needs is extremely important. It’s what everyone with a platform should do. Success isn’t about how much money, cars, or houses that you have. But it is about how many lives you’ve affected in a positive manner.
In this country there shouldn’t be anyone hungry or without proper shelter. Compassion for people, no matter what color their skin is, where they live, or how much money they have is what’s highlighted in this documentary. Even in the album a similar sentiment of valuing real things is the message. People are real, love is real, God is real. After that should come everything else.
Watch 4 Your Eyez Only below.