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Posted on September 8th, 2013 (7:33 am) by Sachia Sanchez

Jermaine Cole, better known as J. Cole released Born Sinner in on the most cluttered dates for hip-hop albums this summer. Competing with veterans Kanye West and Wale, he proved to be the victor achieving greater sales. Despite the numbers on the board, J. Cole’s Born Sinner feels like a lackluster attempt at courting a potential mate. Surrounding J. Cole is an aura of hype seldom seen in up-and-coming rappers; signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, J. Cole’s career is a promising one, despite having to compete with his boss and a colleague this summer. If there is one thing that impresses about J. Cole, it is how heavy handed he is in the production, he takes an intimate approach to crafting his art, something a lot of rappers neglect; he masterfully connects hooks almost on par with Drake.  

Born Sinner features J. Cole’s influences, just like in Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City there are a ton of interludes and samples that highlight his environment—everything from spirituality to comedy. The similarities stop there. Born Sinner does not deliver on the hype it has acquired, it comes off as a dull effort from J. Cole’s part. Few tracks stand out or are memorable.

On "Villuminati," J. Cole comes out punching with choppy musical texture and interesting sample selections. In what is possibly one of the most progressive lines in hip-hop this year J. Cole says "My verbal AK slay faggots and I don't mean no disrespect whenever I say faggot, okay faggot...Just a little joke to show how homophobic you are." J. Cole here is outright combating the homophobia which is prevalent in the hip-hop community. It is brave, it is bold, it is right. It won't be long before many artists start regurgitating the philosophies J. Cole preaches on just this song alone.   

“She Knows”, showcases yet again, how catchy J. Cole can be: the thumping bass, a catchy hook. It’s an adrenaline filled track about infidelity and the struggles of temptation. He wants to so badly be a good lover, but all around him women throw themselves at him. While the context of the song can be over saturated, the hook and the production is just so well refined it is hard not to be entertained by it.   

Aside from uninspired rapping and a failure to diversify themes, J. Cole smothers his features. Kendrick Lamar and Miguel serve as a little more than hook drivers and their potential is squandered by what is possibly the fear of being outshined on a song. It’s hard to believe Lamar and Cole will tour and release a joint effort when Cole has limited him. As impressive as being the executive producer on your own record, that novelty quickly disappears when the tracks rarely differ. J. Cole sounds bored.

Nas was right to be disappointed in J. Cole; Lamar was justified in calling him out on the “control” verse. J. Cole is quite possibly the most overrated rapper in the mainstream. You can't help but sympathize for him. He sounds defeated and alone, while most rappers do their best to maintain their inflated egos, J. Cole goes against the status quo. Perhaps too obviously, almost every song he is complaining about something, wanting to be better or pining over a girl. J. Cole is masterful with creating catchy hooks that stick with you, outside of that, little else is memorable.

Track List:
1. Villuminati
2. Kerney Sermon (Skit)
3. Land of the Snakes
4. Power Trip
5. Mo Money (Interlude)
6. Trouble
7. Runaway
8. She Knows
9. Rich Niggaz
10. Where's Jermaine (Skit)
11. Forbidden Fruit
12. Chaining Day
13. Ain't That Some Shit (Interlude)
14. Crooked Smile
15. Let Nas Down
16. Born Sinner

J. Cole: Born Sinner
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

63 / 100
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