False Prophets

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"False Prophets"
J. Cole - False Prophets.jpg
Single by J. Cole
Released December 24, 2016
Format digital download
Genre Hip hop music
Length 03:58
J. Cole singles chronology

Everybody Dies
(2016)
False Prophets
(2016)
Deja Vu
(2017)

Peaked @ #54 on December 31, 2016


Here, Cole raps about rappers who having reached the top of the game, he now considers to have fallen from grace. It has been speculated that part of this song is directed at Kanye West.

He tell us he a genius but it's clearer lately It's been hard for him to look into the mirror lately

The timing of the dropping of the song is unfortunate, arriving shortly after Kanye West's hospitalization for mental health issues. However, Cole never actually uses West's name and it could be he's using Yeezy's persona to voice a more general opinion about recent music that big artists have dropped. Elsewhere, Cole seems to be calling out Drake who has been accused of plundering other rapper's styles and using ghostwriters for his raps.

Maybe it's my fault for idolizing niggas Based off the words they be rappin' But come to find out, these niggas don't even write they s--t Hear some new style bubblin' up, then they bite the s--t Damn, that's what I get for lyin' to myself

Cole is questioning himself for looking up to such rappers when they are just spitting some words that they didn't write over somebody else's beat. Cole even appears to fire a shot at his pal Wale,

I got a homie he a rapper and he want to win bad He want the fame the acclaim the respect that's been had by all of the legend So every time I see him he keeps stressing Talkin' about niggas don't f--- with him, s--- is depressin'.

Wale has tweeted in the past about how he feels misunderstood and slighted by some of his peers. Cole calls the rappers that he is giving knowledge about "false prophets" on the hook. The allusion is to Matthew 7 v 15 where Jesus warns his followers:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Cole uses this analogy to describe some of the rappers, which he once idolized, as being like the false prophets that crave adoration. The beat for "False Prophets" was composed by Freddie Joachim. His instrumental titled "Waves," was previously used by Joey Bada$$. for his 2012 song also called "Waves." Bada$$ tweeted that Cole visited him months before this song was dropped:

"Nah but nothing but love for my big brother @JColeNC. He played the song for me & asked for my blessing on the beat months ago. Real one #4." Both this song and "Everybody Dies" were released as singles shortly before the release of 4 Your Eyez Only, but weren't included on the album. Many fans were disappointed that the hard-hitting tracks had been excluded. J. Cole's manager, Ibrahim "Ib" Hamad explained why they were left off the track listing during an interview with Billboard magazine:

"The album was initially like 13, 14 songs and then just at the last second, we kind of were like, 'Look, if we're trying to tell a story, let's just make it as clear as possible and cut it down to that.' So when we cut out 'False Prophets' and 'Everybody Dies,' it really hurt," Hamad said. "[…] We really wanted [the songs] on the album and it was like we still wanted people to hear it but we didn't want to put the music out because we knew it wasn't a real representation of the album." Speaking during a New York Times profile, Cole explained his mindset when he recorded this tune. "Rappers rap about other rappers all the time - subliminal insult, direct attack - but rarely from a place of love. 'That speaks to the state of us as a people,' he said. 'For so long my mind state was, I have to show how much better than the next man I am through these bars. Who's the best? Let me prove it. And it's just like, damn, I'm really feeding into a cycle of keeping black people down, I'm really feeding into that.'"

Music video

Lyrics

[Hook]
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Be like this, be like this
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this

[Verse 1]
Yeah, life is a balance
You lose your grip, you can slip into an abyss
No doubt, you see these niggas trippin'
Ego in charge of every move, he's a star
And we can't look away due to the days that he caught our hearts
He's fallin' apart, but we deny it
Justifying that half ass shit he dropped, we always buy it
When he tell us he a genius but it's clearer lately
It's been hard for him to look into the mirror lately
There was a time when this nigga was my hero, maybe
That's the reason why his fall from grace is hard to take
'Cause I believed him when he said his shit was purer and he
The type of nigga swear he real but all around him's fake
The women, the dickriders, you know, the yes men
Nobody with the balls to say somethin' to contest him
So he grows out of control
Into the person that he truly was all along, it's startin' to show
Damn, wonder what happened
Maybe it's my fault for idolizin' niggas
Based off the words they be rappin'
But come to find out, these niggas don't even write they shit
Hear some new style bubblin' up, then they bite this shit
Damn, that's what I get for lyin' to myself
Well, fuck it, what's more important is he's cryin' out for help
While the world's eggin' him on, I'm beggin' him to stop it
Playin' his old shit, knowin' he won't top it
False prophets

[Hook]
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Be like this, be like this
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
False prophets (La-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la…)
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Be like this, be like this
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Yeah, false prophets

[Verse 2]
I got a homie, he a rapper and he wanna win bad
He want the fame, the acclaim, the respect that's been had
By all the legends, so every time I see him, he stressin'
Talkin' 'bout, niggas don't fuck with him, this shit is depressin'
And I know he so bitter he can't see his own blessings
Goddamn, nigga, you too blind to see you got fans, nigga
And a platform to make a classic rap song
To change a nigga's life, but you too anxious livin' life
Always worried 'bout the critics who ain't ever fuckin' did it
I write what's in my heart, don't give a fuck who fuckin' with it
But in a sense I can relate, the need to be great
Turns into an obsession and keeps a nigga up late
Writin' words, hopin' people observe the dedication
That stirs in you constantly, but intentions get blurred
Do I do it for the love of the music or is there more to me?
Do I want these niggas to worship me?
False prophets

[Hook]
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Be like this, be like this
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this, be like this
False prophets (La-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la…)
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Be like this, be like this
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Yeah, false prophets

[Verse 3]
These rappers insecure
They talk about being a man so much
I finally understand that they ain't even sure
'Bout who they are and why they do this
Guess I'm included in that category as a nigga who done had the glory
My highest moments come from tellin' all the saddest stories
I've seen in my life, I be fiendin' to write
Songs that raise the hair on my arms
My lowest moments came from tryin' too hard
To impress some niggas that couldn't care if I'm on
Therefore from here on out, my hair grow out
I care nothin' 'bout opinions
I wanna give hope like the fountains you throw pennies in
Hit the store, take your diss, make your wish
This is dedicated to the ones that listen to me on some faithful shit
I'm on some thankful shit
But the real God is in you, not the music you coppin'
I hear my old shit and know I can top it
False prophets

[Hook]
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Be like this, be like this
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this, be like this
False prophets (La-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la…)
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Be like this, be like this
Somebody shoulda told me it would be like this
Yeah, false prophets


Weekly charts

Chart (2016) Peak
position
December 31, 2016 54