J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only documentary on HBO gave the Dreamville boss a chance to speak with others about the state of this country, but it also allowed him to bring his latest album cuts to life.
During the special, Cole shared surveillance camera footage of a SWAT team raid on his North Carolina headquarters, a home-turned-studio which has been nicknamed The Sheltuh.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Jermaine raps about the incident on “Neighbors”: “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.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Cole revealed that he wrote “Neighbors” along with five other songs the week that The Sheltuh was raided. He believes the incident took place because a neighbor thought he was selling drugs out of the home.
But the SWAT team didn’t find massive amounts of drugs in the creative space. They apparently issued a ticket for a small amount of marijuana that was found in the residence, but it appears they were looking for much more.
In December, Dreamville producer Elite spoke on how true events inspired the track. “[The Sheltuh’s] basically a studio in a basement, in the woods,” he told Complex. “It’s also in the suburbs of a pretty wealthy neighborhood in North Carolina. So 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.
“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,” he added. “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.”
Beyond the raid footage, Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only doc also revealed a snippet of a new song, which has been dubbed “Want You to Fly.” “God is real and he using me for a bigger purpose,” he raps. “So fuck the world that would have you think that a ni**a worthless / Sometimes I think that these verses can help a person / Way more than the ones they readin’ in churches / On days of worship.”