- “Forbidden Fruit” (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
- “Chaining Day”
- “Born Sinner” (feat. James Fauntleroy)
As an avid J. Cole listener who has been around since his early days during The Come Up, let me be the first to congratulate Cole on dropping an excellent and cohesive second project. After taking us on a Fiasco-like journey with three great mixtapes and a not-so-exciting debut album, it seemed as if the world had ruled out J. Cole as one of the better active rappers and instead knighted him with nicknames such as ‘Sleepytime Cole’, even deeming his music as the audible equivalent to Nyquil. After taking the public’s opinion over his first album to heart, Cole came back with a vengeance on Born Sinner and dropped the project that not only we as listeners wanted, but he as an artist wanted as well.
Conceptually, the album takes a different route than any of Cole’s former works. While his previously titled mixtapes and album all revolved around a basketball theme (didn’t even catch that, did ya?), Cole uses Born Sinner to express his imperfections as not only an artist, but as a person as well. Jermaine uses tracks such as “Runaway” and “She Knows” to confess his inabilities to remain faithful to his longtime girlfriend of over 10 years. “Chaining Day” allows Cole to genuinely discuss how all his materialistic possessions are just that and nothing more. On one of the standout tracks on the album, “Let Nas Down”, Cole even vents to the public about how one of his biggest inspirations hated his single “Workout” and how much it affected him as an artist. Closing up the album with his own personal ode to music, the title track “Born Sinner” expresses Cole’s battle with the music industry and his claim as one the realest rappers in the game.
In one of his smarter moves, Cole leaves out any possible competition by not including rap features and instead calling on the help of artists such as Miguel, TLC, and Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors for equally memorable and catchy hooks. Listeners also get a feature from Cole’s conscience, the child-like voice known as Lil Cole who was featured on songs such as “Dollar and a Dream II” and “Playground”, at the end of “Forbidden Fruit.” Primarily produced by Cole himself, with the help of Elite and No I.D. on two of the tracks, the album features a variety of smoothly sampled classic songs. From an appropriate Biggie sample in “Villuminati”, an Outkast sample in “Land Of The Snakes”, and an ATCQ sample in “Forbidden Fruit”, Cole’s production, while sometimes hindering him, instead benefits him throughout the project and adds to the cohesion of the album.
With 16 songs on the album, including five additional tracks on the Deluxe Edition that double as the third and final installation of the Truly Yours series, Born Sinner accurately displays J. Cole’s growth as an artist, allowing the Roc Nation artist to prove to his audience that not only does he deserve to be signed to his corresponding label, but also that he’s in the industry for the long run and there’s no stopping him now.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
*originally published on TheRedefined.Com, now CrackTheCrown.Com.