Dreamville Producer Elite Breaks Down Origin of J. Cole’s “Neighbors”

Dreamville Producer Elite Breaks Down Origin of J. Cole's "Neighbors"

J. Cole pretty much takes full initiative on his 4 Your Eyez Only album. But Dreamville producer Elite does have executive producer credits that aren’t going unnoticed.

Speaking with Complex, Elite confirms fan theory of the album is very close and how the track “Neighbors” came about. Oh, and more.

Elite on songs that didn’t make the album: Countless. We had to make some really tough cuts. We had to take out honestly some of my favorite songs on the album because of clarity and making sure the story and the message reached people. All of the songs will have homes eventually, it’s just a matter of giving them the proper platform.

Elite on how “Neighbors” came about: 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.

 

Elite on the album’s theory: We saw [the theory] and it was pretty well-analyzed by whoever did that. It’s pretty close to what Cole intended. There is another perspective that he is speaking from on this album, and that’s what he wanted to make clear. There are moments where it parallels him and he speaks from his own perspective. “Neighbors” is a step outside for a second, but it’s still a commentary on the overall theme. But the album is largely from a perspective that is not J. Cole.