In J. Cole’s album 4 Your Eyez Only we observe a different side of him that hadn’t been revealed in his past albums. This album displays shared experiences within the black community and allows listeners to dive deeper into the meaning of his music through his lyrics. The reason this album feels far more personal than any of his previous albums is because it is also a tribute to his childhood friend, James McMillan Jr who passed away at the age of 22 leaving behind a daughter and his wife. I consider all songs on this album to be art, but the song “She’s Mine Pt. 2” specifically stands out as a poem itself. In his song J. Cole opens up about his experience becoming a father and how it altered his views on life and love. He speaks to his newborn daughter through his lyrics; writing in present tense, as if she were to be listening in the future. He begins the song by saying he wishes things were different in society and criticizes those who focus on material things. He writes saying:
If I had a magic wand
To make the evil disappear
That means that there would be no more Santa Claus
No more to bring you Christmas cheer
Cause what he represents is really greed
And the need to purchase shit from corporations that make a killin’
Because they feed on the wallets of the poor
The writer uses the metaphor of feeding on the wallets of the poor to emphasize the downsides of consumerism among those who don’t have much to give. Although this might seem like a negative approach, I think it is very realistic for him to include this. I interpret these lines as a story of a selfless father who acknowledges the imperfections of society as he is bringing a child into this world, and his only desire to protect his child from all evil.
Reminisce when you came out the womb
Tears of joy I think filled up the room
You are now the reason that I fight
I ain’t never did nothing this right in my whole life
As he begins to describe the birth of his child the tone and diction of the songs shifts. He changes from being direct and pessimistic to fully engulfing in the idea of being a father. In the second line above when he says, “tears of joy I think filled up the room” the writer is using figurative language to capture the excitement and happiness of that moment. The shift in tone is significant because it symbolizes the drastic change that comes with becoming a father, this adds to the overall meaning because it shows how having a child can transform your perspective on life.
Am I worthy of this gift?
Am I strong enough to lift?
Into a place that I can see
Someone more important than me?
In the following lines he provides a deeper reflection of his experience. He questions himself, doubting if he can take on such a responsibility. The use of rhetorical questions in this song, reflect the internal conflict of the speaker. This also further explains the meaning of the song. By repeating these four lines the speaker sets an eerie feeling and prolongs the thought. The last line stands out because it shows how becoming a father has showed him new priorities. At the end he wraps up his thoughts by saying, “someone more important than me” this demonstrates a deeper understanding of love. This ties into the overall meaning of the song because he is expressing how his experience of becoming a father has shown him that he could love another human being far more than he loves himself.
I’m gon’ do a humble stunt, act like I meant this shit
That’s the ego taking credit for what God made
F**k this album shit, “Hey mama, look what God made”
J. Cole mentions his tendency to let his ego get in the way, but when it comes to his child his attitude changes, instead of crediting himself he looks towards god and credits him for his daughter. He sees his child as a gift from God and he feels that he a special new purpose as father. He proves that the birth of his child has taught him true love. No material thing holds the same importance anymore because the love he feels for his child is greater than anything he has ever encountered. Throughout this song the message of love and family is prominent, but not in a traditional way. J. Cole shows us that love can go deeper than just relationships, because the love he feels as a father has impacted him beyond his previous beliefs of love and society.