It's been just over six weeks since J. Cole released 4 Your Eyez Only, the full-length follow-up to 2014 Forest Hills Drive, and he's back with a heavy, contemplative single on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that tackles politics and feelings of disillusionment one line at a time.
With "High for Hours," Cole wastes no time in calling out "American hypocrisy" and unpacking the complicated and problematic history of our country. He starts with the first settlers ("They came here seeking freedom and they end up owning slaves") and works his way up to the present in no time, comparing news anchors reacting to Osama Bin Laden's death to spectators at a Cleveland Cavaliers game a few bars later: "They read the headline and then they all started clapping/As if Lebron has just scored a basket at the buzzer/I stood there for a second watch them high five each other."
He recounts his visit to the White House, too, and a conversation he had with President Obama in the spring of 2016. His question for POTUS was direct: Does he see the struggles of his brothers in oppression? "'And if so, if you got all the power in the clout as the president/What's keeping you from helping n---as out?'/Well I didn't say n---a, but you catch my drift."
Cole then recalls Obama's reaction, and how he was moved by it: "He look me in my eyes and spoke and he was rather swift/He broke the issues down and showed me he was well aware/I got the vibe he was sincere and that the brother cared."
He wraps up "High for Hours" with the age-old adage about studying history so it doesn't repeat itself, although he's not so sure that doing so will lead to necessary change: "The only real revolution happens right inside of you."