J. Cole’s “Neighbors” Was Apparently Inspired By A Police Raid On His Studio

Elite, his 4 Your Eyez Only collaborator says neighbors’ “obvious racism” caused a mistaken drug bust.

December 12, 2016

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Elite, J. Cole's Dreamville collaborator and 4 Your Eyez Only's co-executive producer, sat down with Complex this weekend to talk about the process behind the project. In the interview, he shared some insight on moments that shaped the album, including the "true events" that inspired one song, "Neighbors."


According to Elite, The Sheltuh, the North Carolina studio at which Cole and his collaborators recorded the album, was raided by a S.W.A.T. team when neighbors told authorities that they believed drugs were being sold on the premises.

Elite said neighbors had noticed "predominately, African-Americans coming in and out" and informed police that they thought they were "growing weed or selling drugs." "There was a huge investigation, like a million-dollar investigation," said the producer. "They flew helicopters over, sent an entire SWAT team armed with weapons, broke down the door and searched the whole house." Cole and most of his collaborators were apparently at SXSW, and were not at the house at the time of the raid.

The incident, he says, provided the creative impetus for "Neighbors": The neighbors think I'm selling dope goes the song's hook, before Cole elaborates: 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...

Read the entire interview, including some insight from Elite on the "platinum with no features" phenomenon, over at Complex.

J. Cole’s “Neighbors” Was Apparently Inspired By A Police Raid On His Studio