J. Cole’s “Neighbors” sheds a blinding light on the social issues that harp on the backs of the black community, and that have for centuries. Primarily, this song focuses on the brutal injustices that the black community faces continuously: racial profiling.

J. Cole critiques the social issues that were implemented by whites throughout history. The song tells a scenic anecdote about a time where J. Cole moved into a high-class neighborhood to escape his fame. He didn’t think any harm would come of it, and he provided a nice place for his friends to lounge around with him. Despite his intentions, J. Cole’s white neighbors assumed the worst of him, and called the police, with suspicions, and no evidence, that J. Cole and his friends were drug dealers.

Some critiques J. Cole makes about the harsh realities that exist. For instance, the first half of the second verse paints an eye-opening picture of a realization that J. Cole shares with his audience:


Every n**** 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

I can’t sleep ’cause I’m paranoid
Black in a white man territory


This verse explicitly states that, no matter what successful endeavors you achieve, it almost means nothing if you’re black. J. Cole lists the milestones within his life: a nice house, plaques of success, and the fact that President Obama likes his music. Despite this, however, J. Cole believes that every black man feels like a victim to the system, and will eventually just be another headline about racial stereotypes, like the police brutality incident of Trayvon Martin, an unfortunate, high possibility.

In another line in his song, at the very end, he throws his hands up and loses hope within society:


So much for integration
Don’t know what I was thinkin’
I’m movin’ back to Southside


J. Cole alludes to his belief that integration is useless at this point. Despite the legal steps that have been made throughout history to incorporate equality for all people, regardless of their race, sex, religious beliefs, etc, he still has to deal with the terrible injustices as a black man. He almost blames himself at the end of this song, with a “how could I believe things wouldn’t turn out this way” outlook on the situation. Finally, he arrives at a solution for himself: he gives up. He decides that living in a nice area is not worth the racial profiling. If he must be racially profiled, he may as well move back to “Southside”, a poor, unsafe area where he grew up.

J. Cole’s “Neighbors” has social critiques from beginning to end, but these two verses implement the frustrations that J. Cole shares with the black community as a whole.