07 June 2013

REVIEW: J. Cole - Born Sinner

Jermaine Lamarr Cole's young career has been riddled with trying to satisfy the insatiable hunger of hip-hop fiends who are quick to throw you to the wayside if you don't shower them consistently with new music. In an era where an artist can keep their name afloat simply by releasing a random track from their vault onto a popular hip-hop site, it puzzled many fans as to why J. Cole seemingly fell off after dropping his successful debut album "Cole World: The Sideline Story." Nearly two years later, the reason for his hiatus is apparent with his second studio album "Born Sinner."

If you pay attention to the themes of his early mixtapes, and EPs, you see that they are centered around his rise to fame. First he came up, then warmed up, and after the lights came on, finally decided he refused to be on the sideline anymore. With his unrivaled versatility with words coupled with his ability to craft beats and self-produce great music on his own, it's no surprise to see that J. Cole has cemented his spot in hip-hop. The question now is, what should an artist of his calibur do with the opportunity he has been given? Which direction should he take his music now that he has has the ears and the respect of an entire community?

These days the cliche'd conversation about a newer artist usually consists of whether or not they will stay true to their roots, or will they go "pop." It has become a mundane issue at this point, because in most cases it's obvious what road an artist is going down. But with nothing to hold fans over since "Cole World," die hard fans were definitely worried about the sophomore effort from Fayetnam's finest.

"Born Sinner" lays all doubts to rest from the very beginning. The sheer quality of this album as a whole more than explains why Cole has been off the radar. From production, to lyricism and storytelling, you can hear the mission that he has embarked on as an artist. There is an obvious shift in the tone and mood of "Born Sinner" when compared to not only his last album, but all of his mixtapes prior. It's much more ominous, and Cole makes sure the listener is aware of this from the intro track "Villuminati." The darker tone and mellow vibe from a production aspect make it easy to hone in on the depth of his subject matter.

Cole is attempting to shift the conversation. He is challenging listeners to expect more than the status quo from an artist, and themselves. He understands his position as a role model and after exposing his soul on the powerful "Let Nas Down" track, he makes it known that any radio hit he may have had in the past was simply to catch the ear of an audience outside of his core in order to bless them with something truly thought provoking on his actual album. Those same "mainstream" fans he gained with the chart-topping single "Work Out" from his first album will undoubtedly be in line for "Born Sinner" on June 18th; a perfect opportunity for him to play his part and begin inspiring a new generation to want more for themselves than what the radio has poisoned their minds with.

There are no "typical" radio singles or strip club bangers on this album, so don't expect any French Montana-esque collaborations. Cole has remained true to his craft, and in doing so, managed to put together, and self-produce the majority of what is nearly a classic album.

Standout Tracks: Runaway, Let Nas Down, Forbidden Fruit

Let the BITM crew know what y'all think of the album.

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