HOLLYWOOD—J. Cole released his second album “Born Sinner” On Tuesday going up against Kanye West and Mac Miller. J. Cole’s album is the most soulful, a dark album in which he showcases his progression and development as a musician.
Cole’s second effort shows a complexity and realness about his celebrity status. He continues to walk and live a lifestyle that took him some getting used to. Coming from his humble roots inNorth Carolina, with this album he expresses himself more freely artistically. “Born Sinner” starts off with “Villuminati,” a play on word’s combining his hometown of Fayetteville with the Illuminati the oh-so mysterious cult. He kicks off the album with a promise that “It’s Way Darker This Time” featuring a Notorious B.I.G. sample rapping about his climb to fame and how he sometimes brags Like HOV. The song takes a darker tone in which he asks the devil to return him his soul.
The album transcends into the “Kerney Thomas Skit” a pastor who makes money off people’s faiths and is a phony. This than goes into “Land Of The Snakes” in which Cole uses an Outkast beat and raps about his struggles growing up and living in the big city. The album transitions to the first single “Power Trip,” which he says is a relationship with hip-hop, a dark tale of love. This flows into the interlude “Mo Money” as he rhymes every line ending with money, a song about socioeconomic status.
“Trouble” marks ahigh pointfor J. Cole. As a producer in the song, he rhymes about the troubles that came, especially with females, this song flows well into “Runaway” a more intimate song talking about his relationship and him trying to runaway from being a grown up. “She Knows” featuring Amber Koffman from the Dirty Projectors caps off three songs in a row and a section in the album in which he raps about his struggles with the temptations of women, even though he has a woman at home. “Rich N****z” also part of this section of the album, has the artist rapping on a slower beat about how much he is disgusted about people who have long been rich.
The “Wheres Jermaine (Skit)” leads us into the final part of the album. “Forbidden Fruit” featuring Kendrick Lamar is primed to be one of the best songs of the album, but Lamar only appears on the hook of a rather slow song that just comes and goes. “Chaining Day” a very good song, which focuses on materials and socioeconomic status, he raps “Don’t take my chains from me I chose this slavery.” “Crooked Smile” featuring TLC is one of the lighter and optimistic songs on the album. On “Let Nas Down,” J. Cole talks about letting down legendary rap artist Nas; how he sacrificed his art for a hit single and how difficult that part of the business was for him. He ends the album on a fascinating note flowing from very dark to optimistic and showcasing his level of improvement. The final track “Born Sinner” is the most intimate song in the album that brings this successful album to a close.
By Luis Cuevas