J. Cole’s new album 4 Your Eyez Only is another major win for the Roc Nation rapper after the record landed at the top of the Billboard charts, giving him his fourth consecutive no. 1 album. It’s also his second consecutive project where the rapper didn’t include any outside acts, which pretty much goes against the grain in comparison to most rap released these days. Cole’s solo dolo approach matched with his sales success spawned the “platinum with no features” meme after 2014 Forest Hills Drive and started making the rounds on social media again once 4 Your Eyez Only dropped.
As it turns out, Cole is aware of the running joke. He just doesn’t allow it to change his approach, according to his manager Ibrahim ‘Ib’ Hamad. In a new interview with Billboard, the Dreamville president explains how they don’t intentionally look to go it alone; things just end up being that way once each body of work is completed.
“Cole’s never gonna force anything,” he said. “He’s not the guy that’s out, hanging out with rappers or in the studio with rappers all day. He’s really in the studio with his team and making music with his producers and his artists. He’s done songs with other people involved but it might not make the album. If it doesn’t work, Cole’s not gonna put it on there because it’s a name. He’s never gonna put it on there just to say he got a feature.”
Ib continued, “He also didn’t go into it like, ‘I’m gonna have no features on this album.’ He didn’t go into Forest Hills Drive initially saying he was gonna have no features. That’s just how it ended up. At the end of the day, the most important thing to him and to all of us is how do we get this point that we’re trying to get through and how do we make the best version of a song…”
The push to create the most cohesive project possible is also what lead to the exclusion of the two songs fans were treated to via the pre-release documentary Eyez. “That’s why we ended up taking out ‘Everybody Dies’ and ‘False Prophets,'” Ib says. “It was a great song. It was an album-worthy song, but it just didn’t make sense in the story that we were trying to tell. And that’s just how it is. That’s the process. You have to stick to what you believe in and what you want to get out there.”
Trusting the process appears to be paying dividends for Cole and co. so don’t expect them to switch things up anytime soon. And as long as they keep the approach, the meme itself will continue to live on.