J. Cole’s fourth studio album 4 Your Eyez Only was undoubtedly a huge release — it debuted at No. 1 and its entire tracklist landed in the Hot 100. However, the album was not immune to controversy as its Boi-1da- and Vinylz-produced “Déjà Vu” was accused of sounding too much like Bryson Tiller’s “Exchange.” Vinylz then accused “Exchange” producer Foreign Teck of stealing the beat, but Foreign Teck has denied these claims. Both songs sample K.P. and Envyi’s 1998 track “Swing My Way.”
Now. J. Cole’s producer and Dreamville manager Ibrahim “Ib” Hamad explained why they decided to include the track despite its similarities to “Exchange.”
“I wouldn’t say there was any hesitation because I felt like it’s just two totally different songs. We had already made ‘Déjà Vu,’ like that song was literally made for his last album [2014 Forest Hills Drive] and we just knew it would fit better because of the story he wanted to tell on the album,” Hamad said. “Cole had already made the song, so when Bryson’s album came out and we heard it, it was a feeling like, ‘Damn, he used the same sample.’ But to Cole, it don’t matter. He’s not competing with Bryson. What Bryson’s song did was incredible, and to Cole, it was like, ‘It’s a part of the story I want to tell, so I’m gonna use [the beat].’ We didn’t really know the backstory at the time of what happened with Vinylz and Boi1da and [ForeignTeck] who made the beat. That was none of our concern.”
“The album was initially like 13, 14 songs and then just at the last second, we kind of were like, ‘Look, if we’re trying to tell a story, let’s just make it as clear as possible and cut it down to that.’ So when we cut out ‘False Prophets’ and ‘Everybody Dies,’ it really hurt,” Hamad said. “[…] We really wanted [the songs] on the album and it was like we still wanted people to hear it but we didn’t want to put the music out because we knew it wasn’t a real representation of the album.”
Read the full interview on Billboard.