J. Cole’s 2016 track “Neighbors” is famously inspired by a police raid on his house in Fayetteville, N.C., which was spurred by the racist assumptions made by his wealthy white neighbors. He’s spoken about the incident in interviews since, and even included the security camera footage of the SWAT raid in the song’s music video.
At his recent concert in Brooklyn, however, the North Carolina rapper told the full story of what happened in great detail:
Cole explained that the song wasn’t just inspired by the raid itself, but by the way it made him rethink what he decided to do with his money:
I wrote 19 rap verses about these niggas. I was mad as fuck. But I thought about it, and I had to check myself because I thought that I was guilty of something. Every time in this country a black man gets some money, what’s the first place he moves to? Nine times out of 10, he’s gonna be living next door to somebody who’s not comfortable with your presence, but that’s where we go anyways because we feel validated. What we won’t do is go to one of our neighborhoods, buy some property, built that shit up and invest it into the community. I felt like I was guilty of the same shit, and it made me write this.
He raps about this same idea on the song’s outro:
So much for integration
Don’t know what I was thinkin’
I’m movin’ back to south side
The self-produced track appears on Cole’s 2016 album 4 Your Eyez Only; it peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December of last year, making it the third-biggest hit from the album after “Deja Vu” (No. 7) and “Immortal” (No. 11).