The real-life racism that inspired J. Cole's 'Neighbors' from '4 Your Eyez Only'
December 12, 2016 at 10:44 pm
J. Cole fans and critics alike have had a lot to say about his latest release, 4 Your Eyez Only. In an interview with Complex, the album's co-executive producer, Elite, gave a lot of insight into the making of the album, including one of the standout tracks, "Neighbors."
The song includes lines like "Some things you can't escape; death, taxes, and a racist society that make every n*gga feel like a candidate. For a Trayvon kinda fate, even when your crib sit on a lake. Even when your plaques hang on a wall. Even when the president jam your tape."
Elite says that the song's lyrics were based on a real-life experience witnessed by Cole and his team. The story, which he describes as "crazy," surrounds a suburban house in Cole's home state of North Carolina which he rents as a "safe haven/creative workspace" for Dreamville artists and producers, with a studio in the basement.
"So you have, predominately, African-Americans coming in and out of this house. Ubers coming, and every once in awhile you’ll see a group of us outside on the porch smoking weed. So the neighbors started getting real paranoid," he said.
While the team went to SXSW last year, neighbors called police and said they were either selling drugs or growing weed out of the house, resulting in a huge "million-dollar investigation," as Elite calls it. A SWAT team broke down doors in the house as helicopters flew over and they searched the whole house.
"They go downstairs and all they see is a studio, and obviously they felt stupid. It’s just crazy ironic because out of anybody, they picked the wrong person. J. Cole is the last person to do anything like that. He’s out here doing extremely positive things for the community and for young artists. Because of obvious racism from the neighbors, the police were called and a raid took place," he said.
The interview also confirmed a popular fan theory that while the album relates to J. Cole's life and has similarities, it is from a perspective that is largely not the rapper's.
To check out Elite's full, insightful interview with Complex, visit here.