Jermaine Lamarr Cole, better known as J. Cole, released his fourth studio album on December 9th, 2016 titled 4 Your Eyez Only and it is a masterpiece.
And we here at CREAD want to honor him as he takes his 32nd turn around the sun beginning on January 28th, 2017.
Cole ain’t your average rapper and 4 Your Eyez Only isn’t an average album. These 10 tracks take you on a journey through the heart and soul of Cole. Now let me tell you, I have not listened to his 3 prior albums. Eventually, I will.
The reason why I even listened to this album was because of the young people I work with. I’m collaborating with a group of teenagers on a project about the miseducation they receive from their schools and society in general, about who they are, where they come from and what they can achieve. Each student was asked to contribute a song to this project and the students essentially choose songs from Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book and J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only.
So I did what any critically conscious educator would do; I downloaded all the albums from Tidal, made them into one playlist and committed to listening to each album in full and non-stop. I wanted to engulf myself in what the students were listening to, the ideas they were engaging and the consciousness that was unfolding through each track. These three albums have left an indelible impression on me and my initial reaction was, if the kids are listening to this kind of music, these teachers are fucked. Because the teachers aren’t ready.
Honestly, if I had to choose one favorite song, it would be Foldin Clothes. The hook: I wanna fold clothes for you. I wanna make you feel good. Baby, I wanna do the right things they
Feel so much better than the wrong things. I said I wanna fold clothes for you. I wanna make you feel good. Baby, I wanna do the right things they, Feel so much better than the wrong things
I wanna fold clothes for you is so simple, so sweet and so deep. It reveals the deep love that Cole has for his wife Melissa, and for me, the way Black men try to love Black women and how systemic racism impedes on our abilities to love each other and be our full and complete human selves.
So listen, it’s Friday. Hopefully, you have an enjoyable weekend ahead and I’m encouraging you to cop the album and let it speak to your soul. It has so many pedagogical and content implications. We must understand as culturally responsive educators that music is the real textbook, that music is a sign of our times and it documents the depth of our consciousness. If you’re working with young people, you should be deeply connected to what they’re listening to, watching and reflecting in their thoughts and actions.
While we must study our foremothers and forefathers, we must not ignore our current day griots.
Oh yeah, side bar: Did you see how Jay Z bought Tidal for $56 Million and then reportedly sold a 33% stake in Tidal to Sprint for 200 million. Yoooo, Jay is doing it. And all I can think about is how this would be a great lesson or dare I say unit in an economics class. As Jay said, in Diamonds from Sierra Leone:
“I do this in my sleep,
I sold Kilos of coke, (so?) I’m guessin’ I can sell CD’s
I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man
Let me handle my business, damn!”
Happy Birthday Mr. Cole and Cheers to you Jay!
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