“Neighbors” is one of the standout tracks from J. Cole‘s 4 Your Eyez Only album. Unfortunately, it is based on a true story.
In case you haven’t heard it yet, “Neighbors” is a track where J. Cole raps about moving to a very nice neighborhood, minding his business and occasionally having friends over. But, since he and most of his friends are African-Americans, the “neighbors” start to get paranoid and alert the police because they believe they are selling drugs out of the house.
After one listen to the song, it doesn’t feel far-fetched from the truth. Now, thanks to an interview with the album’s co-executive producer, we know that it actually is.
Dreamville producer Elite sat down with Complex to share some behind-the-scenes details about the album and he revealed that “Neighbors” is based on a specific event, word for word.
The “Neighbors” story is crazy. Basically Cole rented out a house in North Carolina. It’s not for him; it’s like a safe haven/creative workspace for all the Dreamville artists and producers. We call it the Sheltuh, and a lot of the album was recorded there.. It’s basically a studio in a basement, in the woods.
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.
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.”
If J. Cole is out here getting his spot raided off false pretense, this should be a hint to rappers who really are about that life to cool out.