Unless you caught J. Cole at a music festival or bumped one of his feature verses—you can count all from 2016 on one hand—you probably thought the guy went ghost this year. The 31-year-old rapper from North Carolina pulls back the curtain tonight with the release of his new documentary titled Eyez.
The 40-minute doc takes a look at Cole’s life since 2014 Forest Hills Drive and what he’s been up to in the studio. As it turns out, he’s been putting in work, as the release of Eyez also comes with the announcement of his new album 4 Your Eyez Only that will be released Dec. 9.
The film begins with footage of a recording session at New York’s famous Electric Lady studio. You see Cole writing lyrics (with a pen! In a notebook!) The film has no narration, so you really get a fly-on-the-wall view of what making the album was like.
About seven minutes in, you can hear a new song (the title is not stated) and even see what appears to be its video. “It’s the return of the Mr. Burn Suckas,” he raps “Not herpes infested, just perfectly blessed with a style that you can’t eff with.” He goes on to dis “the amateur eight-week rappers/The Lil Whatever, just another short bus rapper/Fake drug dealers-turned-tour bus trappers.”
During the course of the film, you can see people tracking violin, organ, bass, vocals, trumpet, and more, and see Cole directing the musicians. The project gives an idea of exactly how involved the rapper is in every single aspect of the project—you even see him getting impromptu lessons in composition and music theory.
And of course, no J. Cole documentary would be complete without some footage of him playing basketball—you can see him warming up on the court about 17 minutes in.
A second maybe-it’s-a-video pops up at around the 31 minute mark, about someone whose “fall from grace was hard to take.”
The film ends with Cole riding away quietly on his bicycle into the NYC evening.
Stream J. Cole’s Eyez above. Non-members of Tidal can sign up for a complimentary trial here.