4 your eyez only is the fourth studio album by the African American rapper J Cole released on the 9th of December 2016. The album is a visual album and the full HBO documentary can be seen on YouTube.
The documentary is 48 minutes long and it features J Cole’s journey through Baton Rouge, Atlanta and Fayetteville his hometown. The visual album is a conscious album focusing on the issues black people (especially black men) face in America. In certain scenes, black men in the hood are seen interacting with each other and J Cole observes their discussions. These people debated on topics such as voting and how it is effective in the black community. One guy seemed to think the only way is to change the system from within so black political officials from the community should be voted in. The other man felt that no matter who is voted in, they still work for the white supremacist system. This man also felt that most black men in America are being deprived of their voting rights because they have criminal records.
The documentary also shows the history of black churches in certain communities and how they black church has been the cornerstone of a lot of black communities. Though on a particular song on the album J Cole talks about his struggles with the concept of religion but affirms his faith in God. On the song change he said,
“See I believe if God is real, he’ll never judge a man
Because he knows us all and therefore he would understand
The ignorance that makes a nigga take his brother’s life
The bitterness and pain that got him beating on his wife”.
This showed the main concept of religion he struggled with was that of judgment, he believes many black people are going through hell in America, so it doesn’t feel right that God will judge harshly.
J Cole’s father was also featured in the documentary and he took J Cole on a journey through his hometown and showed him how black people contributed to the history of the town in a great way. J Cole seemed really impressed by all this information and the fact that he could get a glimpse into his father’s childhood.
Police brutality was also the main topic; he visited the grave of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The names of other victims of police brutality also came up. Towards the end of the documentary he shared a clip from his surveillance of a SWAT team forcefully entering a house he rented to work on his album in because the Neighbours called the police accusing him of selling drugs. He talks about this on his song neighbours.
The most powerful scene, in my opinion, is the final scene showing a grandmother in her 50s who worked 3 jobs and had lost 2 of her children and still had the strength to carry on.