Hall 1101-351

Rashell Aldas

Professor Carrie Hall

English 1101

December 8, 2017

                                                                                 Real Struggles

       Have you ever heard a song that is so “real” that you have to replay it again to see if you missed anything? You see I do that all the time. Especially with J. Cole’s songs. J. Cole has always been known for writing raps based on his own personal experience and feelings. His beats and flow go together so well like butter on toast. In one of his albums, specifically “4 Your Eyez Only” the song “Change” stuck out to me the most.

    I remember being on a crowded L train on my way to school (at the time high school) and listening to a playlist on Spotify. While listening I came across the song “Change”. I have listened to some of J. Coles songs before and they all are great, but this one was different; because it felt more real to me. Usually, raps incorporate ideas or experiences about sex and money. This one, however, spoke about religion, society and his own experience as a young adult. This intrigued me and was the reason why on that train ride the song was playing on repeat.  

      He wants to share his wisdom through the song. At the very beginning of the song, he tests how he wants to sound. J. Cole does this by repeating the phrase “My intuition is telling me they’ll be better days” twice before rapping and after says “I like this tone”. His tone in his voice sounds like he is disappointed but at the same time calm and knowledgeable. However, in his music video, there are some small parts where he smiles as he raps. In the first verse, he speaks about his faith and the fear of death. He does this by saying “My faith don’t deviate, ideas don’t have a date…As we speak I’m in peace, no longer scared to die. Most ni**as don’t believe in God and so they terrified. It’s either that or they be fearing they gon’ go to Hell…” (J. Cole). He believes people are afraid of death when they have no faith in God because they have no hope in a afterlife. This thought doesn’t frighten him though. People of faith tend to not fear death because they believe that if they trust in God they will go to a better, everlasting place called Heaven after there passing. In verses 2 and 3 J.Cole also mentions some struggles he and his friends went through. J. Cole says “Ni**as put three bullets in my car one hit the gas tank. Know I got a angel cause I’m supposed to have a halo…Keep a pistol at all times, ni**as want what’s mine. I can’t oblige dog, I work too hard” (J. Cole). He shares the reality of living in a bad neighboorhood. Crimes cause people to own a weapon for protection especially when someone is trying to take something that is not theirs. However, he later on “Got a new gun, this one. Don’t run out of ammo lately been working on my handles” (J. Cole). This means that J. Cole replaced his gun with raps and in the raps, he speaks the truth which is his new form of protection. Cole’s bridge in his rap goes hand in hand with his 4th and final verse. He says “I reminisce back to a time where ni**as threw they hands. All of a sudden ni**as pop a trunk and then we scram. Finger on trigger make a little ni**a understand. What it’s like to finally be the motherfuckin’ man” (J. Cole). In “the hood” violence is used to prove one’s manhood. However, this has a consequence. He continues the rap and ends the rap by mentioning the death of a friend. “Pistols be poppin’ and niggas drop in a heartbeat. Scattered like roaches, a body laid on the concrete…No time for that, ain’t no lookin’ back, cause I’m running too. I made it home, I woke up and turned on the morning news. Overcame with a feeling I can’t explain. ‘Cause that was my ni**a James that was slain, he was 22” (J. Cole). As soon as gunshots were heard everyone all looked out for themselves. Cole mentions gun violence and how real it is. All in all, the chorus ties all of this together. “I know you desperate for a change at the pen glide. But the only real change come from inside…” (J. Cole). Some people think change can happen quickly but it doesn’t. “Genius” explains his raps well, the chorus especially. “People often look for change in their life to come external sources, like in the form of a cheque or record contract, but Cole believes that real change for individuals comes from within” (Malcolm). In other words, He wants people who are listening, which is most likely teenagers to young adults that one does not truly change their ways by changing physically, but by acknowledging what is bad in themselves and changing themselves from the inside out.               

  Growing up in Bushwick, a neighboorhood where teens often use violence to prove that they are not “pussy” makes me relate to his experience and view on situations on a personal level. He has lived through similar situations that most kids living in “the hood” are living through. He used his platform to create a song, in this case, “Change” to share the things he has learned from life. Although he is “real” in most of his songs. This one emphasized and summarized that people need change and change does not come quickly.



“Change.” Genius, Genius Media Group Inc., 9 Dec. 2016, genius.com/10980159.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiZuT69qJLc (video)