If you follow my Twitter or even read my last article on J. Cole, you can probably guess how big of a fan I am. I already outlined some of the reasons why in my last article (and I found one more: apparently J. Cole founded The Dreamville Foundation which does a variety of things for the community). In that article, I talked about the 4 Your Eyez Only documentary which just aired on Saturday. The trailer lets us know that the topic would be about social issues.
And it was. Cole was not the star of the show by any means. He documented people in communities having conversations about their life and what they go through. The first thing that caught my attention is that a woman was praising Cole for being one of the few artists who invests in the communities he came from. She said that Cole was a voice for them. Quickly, a man said, “but you can be that voice”. That got me thinking. Although helpful, we don’t need a celebrity to bring attention to issues because it starts with one person.
Another scene that caught my attention was the real footage of The Sheltuh, a house turned studio in the suburbs of North Carolina, being raided by SWAT. This event was the inspiration for the song “Neighbors” on the 4 Your Eyez Only album. Cole and his team used that to make music, but apparently, his neighbors thought he was growing marijuana, so they notified the police. All that was in there was music equipment. This event shows how Black people are wrongly criminalized so often. The thought is that Black people cannot possibly have nice things without them somehow illegally obtaining them.
In the documentary, a man was voicing his concerns about how as a two-time felon he can’t vote. He went on to say that it’s not fair because he is educated and his vote matters, yet he can’t make it count because he went to jail. Another man said that he needs to do something about it and support people who are working towards that issue. The other man replied with the fact that he has children and works so he has no time to do so. “You need to make time,” was the man’s response back. This was a pivotal moment in the documentary because it said to me that we must take action instead of “being all talk”. We often blame time, but I believe if we really want to do something there is always time.
“But you can be that voice.”
Cole’s manager, known as IB, asked people on Twitter to let him know what their favorite part of the documentary was. An overwhelming amount of people responded that the last scene was their favorite, and I can see why. The last scene was a woman sharing her story with Cole. She described the two deaths of her children. Despite this, the woman seemed so “radiant” as Cole said. You could tell how genuine, kind, and humble she is. Cole asked how she stayed positive to which she replied that she has a lot to live for and that she believes she is on this earth for a reason. It was a nice ending because it reminds us all that no matter what we’re going through, there is always hope and something to live for.
— J. Hughes (@J_Hughes26) April 16, 2017
All in all, the documentary was full of more amazing stories besides the one’s I wrote about. You can stream the 4 Your Eyez Only documentary on HBO and see what other important topics Cole lets people talk about on his platform.