Over the weekend, Jermaine Cole released his fourth studio album titled 4 Your Eyez Only. And in less than twelve hours it was the most hated and loved thing I’ve ever seen on social media. I mean, the shit was absolutely ridiculous. The true definition of polarizing, 4 Your Eyez Only elicited responses so far on both sides of the spectrum that it made the presidential election look tame by comparison.
There was no middle ground. If you liked J. Cole, that was unacceptable. You had to love J. Cole. And if you didn’t, you were an unintelligent coon who glorifies drugs, guns and sex. Also, they are offended because you don’t get “it” and they point to his massive first week sales as a movement of the “woke.” Criticisms of Jermaine Lamarr Cole were dealt with like an African American’s endorsement of Donald Trump.
Yup. I get it now. You don’t hate J. Cole. You hate J. Cole’s fans. Hell, I like J. Cole and I’m beginning to hate his fans as well.
It’s this level of impeccable stan-isms that ruin hip hop for other people. It also comes with the territory of social media and that thing called microwave journalism that stretches beyond writers penning reviews that took them 60 minutes to write 45 minutes after the album dropped.
See what I did there?
The need for kneejerk reactions to music wouldn’t be necessary if the general public didn’t demand it. And if you look at social media, it’s a sea of people who just want to cast their line in the sea in hopes of getting a retweet. However, there aren’t enough fish in the sea to give a damn about your thoughts. So all they do is say more egregiously asinine things to get your attention. You can’t like an album anymore. Instead, you have to profess your undying love for it immediately just so people pay attention to you. It’s like “FIRST” in the comment section on steroids and Jon Jones dick pills. It’s not even about the music anymore. It’s about a bunch of people who make somebody else’s music about them and their ability to be a tastemaker in a record amount of time.
Pssst, it’s not about you.
And that’s where this J. Cole thing is completely out of control.
I’m not going to review the album because I’ve only sat with it a few times and refuse to do the music a disservice by rushing out a review to satisfy an invisible expiration date. But what I will do is state my feelings toward J. Cole.
Personally, I think J. Cole is an exceptional talent who has managed to be extraordinarily relatable despite his remarkable success. He’s the anti-rap hero. He doesn’t indulge in excess but would rather stay grounded to his foundation of social awareness. I commend him for that and it’s the reason that his music has always worked for me. A song like “Foldin Clothes” works for an old and “washed” man like myself who is content with his family life that has bypassed the evenings where my sneakers are drenched in champagne from the nightclub floor. For others, that’s boring. But that’s me.
But that’s the beauty of music. Some people live vicariously through the music of their favorite artist while others look for something that speaks to their everyday struggles (or lack thereof). When it comes to J. Cole, his
fans stans treat him like he’s the only emcee that rhymes about these subjects. I’ll gladly point your ignorant asses in the direction of emcees who also produce like Oddisee and J-Live, who have been tackling this subject matter well before J. Cole rose to relevancy. That’s not to take anything away from what the North Carolina emcee has accomplished, it’s simply a pinch to let y’all elitist asses know to settle the f*ck down. You’re ruining it for everyone else.
The other problem with the J. Cole stans is that you can’t use album sales as a barometer. Why? Because music from the other side of the spectrum has also sold extremely well to the masses. When you really think about it, sales doesn’t mean as much as you would like them to. The 550k that buy J. Cole’s album aren’t all “woke” (gotdamn I hate that word). That just means that there are about 500k more lemmings willing to blindly walk off the edge of the cliff for reasons that they aren’t really sure of.
It’s just like the spoken word incense and headwrap movement of the late 90s that spread like wildfire when “Love Jones” dropped. About 25% were about that life while the other 75% just rode the wave until it was over and then tossed on a throwback jersey. What almost always ends up happening is that these things become “movements” that are destined to oversaturate the market and, ultimately, be revolted against. That’s when you find out who the real fans are that live with the message rather than just dance to it.
That’s exactly what’s happening to J. Cole.
It’s absolutely no fault of his own. It’s just how these things work. J. Cole didn’t invent rap music that the everyday individual can relate to. Just like Drake didn’t invent emo-rap (Slug, anyone?). But he’s been wildly successful because of it. And he’s trying like hell to remind us that he’s not changing to a douche who laments about the cars he drives and all the money he flung in the strip club.
Unfortunately, his stans have turned off everyone who is outside their tree house of rap horror. And that eventually turns into misdirected hate at an artist who didn’t do anything to deserve it.
Some people like Burger King, others like McDonalds. Some prefer Fatburger over In-N-Out. There are those who like an obscure burger joint that serves a $50 Kobe beef burger. Some like neither and others like all of the above. But I’ll be damned if you profess your undying love for food and criticize another person for not loving it as much as you do. That makes you just as stupid as you think they are.
Quit ruining rap music by being ultra hyperbolic and just STFU and listen, you might actually learn something.