Published on July 18th, 2013 | by Mel Blunt0
Review | Born Sinner Impresses: Summer Cole’s?
J. Cole pushed up the release of his sophomore effort Born Sinner by one week to go head-to-head with Kanye West’s highly anticipated Yeezus; a move some thought could be risky at best. Cole insisted that the move wasn’t a challenge to Yeezy (yeah right) nor was it a chess move suggested by his mentor HOV. Cole simply did not want to get lost in the aftermath of Kanye’s release press.
Cole’s gamble paid off and he nearly matched Kanye’s 350′ 000 units moved in the first week with just under 300,000 units moved. Cole clearly checked the “Don’t Talk About it Be About it” box on the Step Your Game Up application.
Born Sinner is the anti-Yeezus in almost every other sense. It’s conventional, linear, and a clear step up from his prior release.
Throughout, its 16 cuts, Cole exhibits lyrical prowess, wit, versatility and range. Production-wise, he has his moments, “Villuminati“, “Power Trip” (featuring Miguel). Cole revisits a couple of major classics, in fleecing both A Tribe Called Quest’s, “Electric Relaxation” in “Forbidden Fruit” (featuring Kendrick Lamar) sample, and that of Outkast’s “Art of Storytelling” in Land of the Snakes. He welcomes No ID for “Let Nas Down“. Which is the perfect song to showcase his diverse skill-set.
On “Let Nas Down” Cole laments the fact that his idol, NaS frowned upon Cole’s decision on releasing a commercial/radio single on his debut CD. Cole exhibits angst, regret, anger and vulnerability with a cool, well thought out delivery. The cut caused Nas to release an immediate yet supportive response, “You ain’t let Nas Down.” The fact that Nas took the time to pen an equally introspective, endorsing answer to Cole speaks directly to Cole’s relevance.
“Crooked Smile” has generated buzz for its witty wordplay and guest singers, TLC. On this cut,Cole explains, “We don’t look nothing like them people on the screens/you know them movie stars stars picture perfect beauty queens/but we got dreams and we got the right to chase em’/look at our nation, that’s a crooked smile braces couldn’t straighten.” On “Villuminati” Cole fires heavy ammo’, “my dad was club hopping when Rick James was out/ and all I get is Trinidad James wait a minute that’s strange, sip a bit of champagne say fuck it/ if the [babes] like it I love it, nigguh nigguh, nigguh! Yes J. Cole talks substance, J. Cole talks substance and subliminal code very well.
With “Born Sinner” Cole confidently sidesteps the sophomore jinx, steps up to the big boy emcee table and asserts himself as a factor in hip- hop. He’s building a viable musical legacy no doubt. Cole is hoping to sway Summer with bravado, an almost aloof cool, and consistency. Undoubtedly the dude has his foot in the door.
Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10.
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