In what just might be becoming a biennial tradition, J. Cole appeared suddenly this month to release a surprise album to his fans, 4 Your Eyez Only. Despite little to no promotion the album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s albums chart, selling nearly 500,000 equivalent units and giving Cole the third biggest debut of the year and further cementing his status amongst rap’s elite. Cole is set to go “platinum with no features” yet again, quite the accomplishment despite internet snark, and his album sits behind only Beyonce and Drake in first week sales in 2016.
In an era where very few minds change, Cole offered fuel to the fire for both sides of the coin in the great J. Cole debate. Eyez is both relatable, and boring, humanizing and robotic. It’s J. Cole in a nutshell, and as his rabid fanbase continues to support him, he’s continuing to elevate into the upper echelon of stars in the industry despite a clear reluctance to craft radio-ready singles.
Eyez is admirable in it’s quest to forego radio, something Cole struggled with years ago, and ironically that approach has netted him his biggest single yet in “Deja Vu.” Finally landing in Billboard’s Top 10, even that comes with a bit of frustrating repetition from Cole, even if it’s not his fault.