J. Cole:Neighbors

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"Neighbors"
Single by J. Cole
from the album 4 Your Eyez Only (2016)
Released April 25, 2017
Format Digital download
Recorded 2016
Genre Hip hop
Length 3:36
Label
Songwriter(s) Jermaine Cole
Producer(s) J. Cole
J. Cole singles chronology
"High for Hours"
(2017)
"Neighbors"
(2017)

"High for Hours"
(2017)
"Neighbors"
(2017)
Peaked @ #13 on December 31, 2016

Frustrated with the racial stereotype that an African American can't be rich unless they're selling drugs, Cole vents his anger on this cut about his relationship with the white community.

The song draws inspiration from an real-life event that took place on March 18, 2016, when Cole rented out a house in North Carolina. It was located in a wealthy neighborhood in North Carolina as a creative workspace for the Dreamville artists and producers. Much of the 4 Your Eyez Only album was recorded there. Dreamville in house producer, Elite, explained to Complex:

"You have, predominately, African-Americans coming in and out of this house. Ubers coming, and every once in awhile you'll see a group of us outside on the porch smoking weed. So the neighbors started getting real paranoid.

Apparently what happened was, we were all in Austin, Texas, for SXSW; thankfully no one was in the house when this went down. One of the neighbors told the police we were growing weed or selling drugs out of this house. And there was a huge investigation, like a million-dollar investigation. They flew helicopters over, sent an entire SWAT team armed with weapons, broke down the door and searched the whole house. Thankfully nobody was in the house. Our engineer Juro 'Mez' Davis had just stepped out for lunch and he came back and saw the SWAT team busting down the door.

They go downstairs and all they see is a studio, and obviously they felt stupid. It's just crazy ironic because out of anybody, they picked the wrong person. J. Cole is the last person to do anything like that. He's out here doing extremely positive things for the community and for young artists. Because of obvious racism from the neighbors, the police were called and a raid took place." This is the only 4 Your Eyez Only track where Cole is the sole producer. Cole is also credited with playing bass and guitar on the album. Between 3:06 to 3:19 on this track, we hear him laying down a funky riff. The song's instrumental is the same one that is used for the Born Sinner track "Forbidden Fruit" but in reverse. During his tour stop in Anaheim, California on July 9, 2017 Cole demonstrated this when he transitioned the end of "Forbidden Fruit" into the intro of "Neighbors." As the first song trailed off, Cole reversed the track's beat into "Neighbors" to show that they are one and the same.

Music video

The music video of the song was released on May 1, 2017. Cole used the footage of the incident from the closed-circuit television of his house as the video. The video only plays the first verse of the song

Lyrics

I guess the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope, sellin' dope
Yeah the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope, sellin' dope
Sellin' dope, sellin' dope, sellin' dope

I don't want no picture with the president
I just wanna talk to the man
Speak for the boys in the bando
And my nigga never walkin' again
Apologized if I'm harpin' again
I know these things happen often
But I'm back on the scene
I was lost in a dream as I write this
A teen down in Austin
I been buildin' me a house back home in the south Ma
Won't believe what it's costin'
And it's fit for a king, right?
Or a nigga that could sing
And explain all the pain that it cost him
My sixteen should've came with a coffin
Fuck the fame and the fortune, well, maybe not the fortune
But one thing is for sure though, the fame is exhaustin'
That's why I moved away, I needed privacy
Surrounded by the trees and Ivy League
Students that's recruited highly
Thinkin' you do you and I do me
Crib has got a big 'ol backyard
My niggas stand outside and pass cigars
Filled with marijuana, laughin' hard
Thankful that they friend's a platinum star
In the driveway there's no rapper cars
Just some shit to get from back and forth
Just some shit to get from back and forth
Welcome to the shelter, this is pure
We'll help you if you've felt too insecure
To be the star you always knew you were
Wait, I think police is at the door

Okay, the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope
Hm, I guess the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope sellin' dope
The neighbors think I'm, neighbors think I'm
I think the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope (Don't follow me, don't follow me)
I guess the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope, sellin' dope
Sellin' dope, sellin' dope, sellin' dope
Well motherfucker, I am

Some things you can't escape
Death, taxes, NRA
It's this society that make
Every nigga feel like a candidate
For a Trayvon kinda fate
Even when your crib sit on a lake
Even when your plaques hang on a wall
Even when the president jam your tape
Took a little break just to annotate
How I feel, damn it's late
I can't sleep 'cause I'm paranoid
Black in a white man territory
Cops bust in with the army guns
No evidence of the harm we done
Just a couple neighbors that assume we slang
Only time they see us we be on the news in chains, damn
Don't follow me, don't follow me
Don't follow me, don't follow me

Okay, the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope
I guess the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope sellin' dope
The neighbors think I'm, neighbors think I'm
I think the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope (Don't follow me, don't follow me)
I guess the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope, sellin' dope
Sellin' dope, sellin' dope, sellin' dope
Well motherfucker, I am

I am, I am, I am, I am
Well motherfucker I am
I think the neighbors think I'm sellin' dope
I am, I am, I am
Well motherfucker I am
So much for integration
Don't know what I was thinkin'
I'm movin' back to Southside
So much for integration
Don't know what I was thinkin'
I'm movin' back to Southside


Weekly charts

Chart (2016-17) Peak
position
December 31, 2016 13
January 7, 2017 54
January 14, 2017 61
January 21, 2017 64
January 28, 2017 70
February 4, 2017 84