J. Cole's 4 Your Eyez Only recently went straight to no. 1 and shifted 492,000 units in its first week on sale. Just like its predecessor, Forest Hills Drive, the album featured zero guests on the tracklist. This has become a running Twitter meme used by his fans to celebrate the artist's commercial success.
In a new interview with Billboard, J. Cole's manager Ibrahim "Ib" Hamad was asked about the meme. He admitted that he and Cole are aware of its popularity and explained where the lack of collaborations stems from.
"Cole’s never gonna force anything," he said. "He’s not the guy that’s out, hanging out with rappers or in the studio with rappers all day. He’s really in the studio with his team and making music with his producers and his artists. He’s done songs with other people involved but it might not make the album. If it doesn’t work, Cole’s not gonna put it on there because it’s a name. He’s never gonna put it on there just to say he got a feature."
Hey I just met you— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) June 5, 2016
And this is crazy
But J. Cole went platinum with no features
So call me maybe
Ib continued, "He also didn’t go into it like, 'I’m gonna have no features on this album.' He didn’t go into Forest Hills Drive initially saying he was gonna have no features. That’s just how it ended up. At the end of the day, the most important thing to him and to all of us is how do we get this point that we’re trying to get through and how do we make the best version of a song? This album wasn’t made like 'How are we gonna impress people?' That’s why we ended up taking out "Everybody Dies" and "False Prophets." It was a great song. It was an album-worthy song, but it just didn’t make sense in the story that we were trying to tell. And that’s just how it is. That’s the process. You have to stick to what you believe in and what you want to get out there."
You can read the whole interview, which also touches on the success of 4 Your Eyes Only and who the typical J. Cole fan is, now.