Rapper J. Cole released and directed a one hour documentary on HBO, titled “4 Your Eyez Only,” on April 15.
The documentary has the same title as J. Cole’s fourth studio album, released on Dec. 9, 2016, yet it does not tell the same story.
The album told a story from the perspective of Cole’s childhood friend, James McMillan.
McMillan is a man who has known nothing but a life of crime until his daughter is born.
She turns his life around as he begins to think about how he’s lived his life and how society let him fall into crime so effortlessly.
The album is a lesson that Cole wanted to leave for his friend’s daughter.
In comparison, the documentary doesn’t focus on one person or one specific narrative, but it does share many common themes and ideas from the album.
The documentary shows Cole travelling to several different cities, including Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Atlanta, GA and Ferguson, Missouri.
Cole creates and documents dialogue from low-income citizens, gaining perspectives of their struggles.
Cole does a good job at creating and discussing ways a person could get out of different hardships.
The documentary starts off with a Hurricane Katrina victim. The unnamed women didn’t receive any help from the government, but that didn’t stop the elderly women from fixing up her house all by herself.
Cole then travels to Ferguson and visits the Michael Brown memorial.
Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in 2014, stirring much controversy in the Ferguson community and nationwide.
Cole has a conversation with a former friend of Brown’s; his powerful message says that although Brown’s death was tragic, it now has a greater meaning since many people are aware of potential injustice.
Perhaps the main feature people, especially Cole fans, will take away from this documentary are the much-anticipated visuals to songs like “Immortal,” “Ville Mentality” and “Change.”
Cole even introduces a snippet of a new song, titled “Want to Fly.”
Most of the visuals give a very psychedelic and trippy vibe, since the sky is often bright pink and people’s faces are bluish green.
The documentary comes off as very natural and humanistic, and ends on an extremely powerful note.
Cole runs into a woman, who is leaving from her second job to go to her third job. She is a grandmother, but has lost two of her own children; one of them was her 19-year-old son who was shot by a friend.
Yet despite all of her hardships, she remains extremely positive and happy and says, “God has a plan.”
It seems Cole is using these people in his documentary to spread a message of remaining hopeful and loving, even when times seem tough.