GENRES: Hip-Hop, Mainstream Hip-Hop, Pop Hip-Hop
TOP TRACKS: Villuminati, LAnd of the Snakes, Power Trip, Mo Money, She Knows, Rich N****z, Born Sinner
J Cole is a North Carolina based Rapper/MC also the first rapper to sign to Jay-Z's rap label, Roc Nation. Cole released his debut full length album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, in 2009. Since then he has won a grammy and recognition as one of the most talented young rappers on the scene today. All eyes were on J Cole regarding his second album, Born Sinner, as to what type of impact he would make. Would J Cole secure himself as a mainstay name in hip-hop or would he fade into obscurity, but after a strong effort and some pretty ballsy gambles on his new album, J Cole has succeeded once again.
On Born Sinner, J Cole is as impressive as he has ever been. He's confident, he's got a certain swagger to him that makes his music all the more interesting to listen to and of course the production is very tight and at times creative. Considering that this is a mainstream rap music, it's rare to see these kind of things in excess on albums which is why Born Sinner is a bit refreshing.
For example, "Villuminati" is very excellent. The beat of the song is very new and original and J Cole spits out some really sincere and interesting verses where he talks about his beginnings as a rapper and how his haters need to respect him now. In that respect, the lyrics are a bit same old same old as most rappers do this already but still intriguing nonetheless because it's done in Cole's special way. J Cole talks about how he "brags like Hov" and how Jay-Z is paying him now. And course the biggie sample from "Juicy" was a pleasant surprise to me whenever I heard it in the song. "LAnd of the Snakes" has some nice background sounds along with the beat. The sample in the middle of the old black man talking about his dick being as hard a rock is kind of hilarious too.
In order to secure this as a solid pop-rap album, J Cole utilizes some impressive features like Miguel on "Powertrip". This track is very catchy and it would work very well as a radio single for J Cole. The production is Top 40 friendly and Miguel's name would attract more listeners. It also happens to be a great track.
However, I think "Forbidden Fruit" with Kendrick Lamar is a bit more disappointing. First of all, you don't really get much out of Kendrick in the song and big Kendrick Fans (like me) will be disappointed to not even hear a verse from Kendrick! Opportunity missed but Cole is forgiven for using that sick Outkast sample on "LAnd of the Snakes" from the The Art of Storytellin' Part 1.
The really short 1 minute 18 second interlude, "Mo Money", is kind of interesting too. The theme is about money and how it affects J Cole. He's a young guy who has been handed a lot of money at a young age and he talks about how most rappers aren't smart with their money and it can end up harming them in the end. Cole says he's smarter than that. It's impressive to me that J Cole is such a smart rapper. He's definitely created his own career and he is enjoying much success which is a sign of intelligence. As much as people want to deride rappers for being stupid or egotistical, it takes skill, talent and intelligence to be a millionaire artist.
I love the production on tracks like "She Knows". The groove is something you almost have to nod your head to and get into. Other than that and "Villuminati" however, the production on Born Sinner is nothing extraordinary and nothing overly ambitious. The production is top-notch and very lavish. However, it's very formulaic of pop-rap album. To me it's impossible to compare this album to Kanye's Yeezus. J Cole chose the release date on purpose to compete with Kanye because he feels its his time and I for one agree with him. J Cole's album sounds like an album that Kanye would have dropped in the mid 2000's but I think Kanye is farther ahead as an artist and so he is experimenting more drastically with his sounds and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks in the process. Unfortunately, J Cole can't afford to think that way because he's too new and he still needs the audience. It's a bit of shame, I would have like to see J Cole step outside of the lines a little bit more but nonetheless this album sounds real good.
J Cole is an interesting personality. He's not your average rapper talking about sex, drugs, money, bitches, and gangs but on the other hand he's not completely snobbish in his intelligence by experimenting in his music. His music is perfect for the genre he is in. There a lot of people who would vest into this type of music and I am one of them. Strong effort for J Cole in what has been an exciting week for hip hop music! Mac Miller's Watching Movies with the Sound Off is next on the list.