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J Cole Born Sinner
Release Date: June 18, 2013 (Item added by toopie)

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Item ID: 328   Report Abuse
Born Sinner is the second studio album by American hip hop recording artist J. Cole. The album was released on June 18, 2013 in the United States under Roc Nation and Columbia Records. It is the follow-up to his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, which was released in 2011. The album was supported by two official singles - "Power Trip" and "Crooked Smile", the former which peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 along with the promotional single "Miss America". The album features guest appearances from Miguel, Amber Coffman, Kendrick Lamar, TLC, James Fauntleroy, 50 Cent, Bas and Jhen Edit Description (Description last edited by toopie)
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 Album Of The Year   July 7, 2013   Report Abuse
By toopie   This is my only review so far.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
A few years ago, I went to see one of my favorite artists in concert, Janelle Monae. I quickly realized though, that almost the entire crowd was there not for her or Wale--but the opening act, J. Cole. Within minutes, Cole had the entire audience on their feet and rapping along with him. I didn't know his music at all, but found myself moving along with the crowd and smiling just because the vibe was so good. I had to wait two years though before I could go and buy his first album though. I wasn't that impressed to be honest. I thought that I had somehow mis-remembered how good Cole was.

Two years later though, J. Cole is back with the album I think he had always been trying to make. He even says as much on the brilliant "Let Nas Down." It's clear the label and Jay-Z made him release a far different debut album than he had intended originally. This though--this is where you really see him.

"Born Sinner" is both reverential as well as super modern musically. Cole hasn't hopped on the bandwagon of rap trends like having a girl sing all of his choruses or making the beats all dance tracks, but he is also not stuck in the past. His beats are clean yet with subtle touches that really elevate them like a jazz saxophone. He both samples as well as references tracks from the beginning of rap in a very respectful way-- A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, and Outkast all make appearances. Also, Cole very smartly pairs himself with some great collaborators like the Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman, Miguel and a choir who all provide a contrast to his rather deadpan delivery.

Lyrically Cole is a beast. He is introspective and thoughtful, sometimes bragging, sometimes telling stories. He's not afraid to really be vulnerable and honest in his questioning of some of his choices and his daily struggles. "Runaway" was especially poignant as he discusses racial issues and ties that back in with his own family history.

Now we do have to mention the elephant in the room though: Kanye West. It's not being unfair to compare the two--Cole is in fact begging for it. He knew exactly what he was doing when he released this album the same day as West dropped his. He forced himself into the conversation. And personally, I think his gamble worked. While ironically, Cole actually sounds like early West on a couple tracks, these two albums could not be more different. Where Kanye's is aggressive and arrogant to the extreme (the "I am a god" track hello), Cole is human and self-deprecating (see title track "Born Sinner"). Kanye is off "making art" with minimal electronic beats, but Cole focused on making one of the best hip hop albums of the year. So yes, West might be more revolutionary and his hype machine is massive right now, but at the end of the day I'm going to be listening to Cole's album.

Things that bother me: despite the fact that pretty much every rapper ever (including women) do this, the objectification of women on some songs does get annoying. The empowering message on "Crooked Smile" (featuring TLC) would mean a lot more if he could actually refer to women as neither a B***h nor a H*e.

Hands down one of the best albums's of the year. I would recommend to every lover of rap out there. This album is personal and really pushes the boundaries of what old school rap artists might sound like if they were making music in 2013. It's not a throwback, but an evolution of rap music. It's modern rap in the very best way possible.
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