2016 Pemberton Music Festival

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The neighbors really did think he was selling dope.

On J. Cole‘s new album, 4 Your Eyez Only, there’s a song called “Neighbors” where he raps about living in an affluent area while his neighbors think he’s up to no good. On the infectious hook, Cole’s pitched-down voice can be heard saying “I guess the neighbors think I’m sellin’ dope,” and as it turns out, the song is based on a true story.

Complex recently spoke to Cole’s producer, Elite, about the true events that inspired the song:

“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.”

Listen to the track below:

SOURCE: Complex

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