Over the last few years, we have seen the US hip-hop scene split into almost two directions. One being the trap-laiden populist style of many newcomers, and the other trying to experiment with the genre in order to create more of a heritage sound. And while J. Cole has straddled both of these perspectives recently, this new release sees him take on the latter with gusto and aplomb.
It seems that since Kendrick Lamar released 'To Pimp A Butterfly' last year, every major name on the scene is now looking to explore their adventurous side. And while '4 Your Eyez Only' doesn't have the same raw drive as that album, it still delivers a short, sharp blast of a new era style. With just 10-tracks to its name, this new record gives us a snapshot of where the rapper is looking pursue in terms of style and influence. It hangs very much in the sombre half of his catalogue as most of this release demands attention through its down-tempo momentum.
Overall, '4 Your Eyez Only' is a very low-key release. With no singles to promote it and a lack of standout cuts, the album is very much treated as a single, unending piece, which suits it very well. A competent and succinct record that almost seems like just one part of a bigger idea.