The Real J.Cole- Born Sinner Review
Written by Brittany Kinsey
J. Cole has more going for himself than being attached to the Rap god, Jay-Z. Jermaine Cole, native of North Carolina, shows himself as a true lyricist and producer. You can easily see how he earned Magna Cum Laude in his college years. If you are a fan of true hiphop, you want Cole to win. Merely, because he has something to say. Not to mention he strategically decided to drop Born Sinner the same day as mega star Kanye West’s Yeezus. That kind of confidence speaks volumes. This was a brilliant idea, considering J. Cole is the humble artist and Kanye West hasn’t acknowledged humility since his ‘College Dropout’ era. Although Cole knew he wouldn’t out sell Mr. West, it was the fact he showed up for battle that sets the stage for his sophomore album Born Sinner. He is one of the rare rap artists who can be successful at empowering his audience while dropping #1 hits, like his lead single, “Power Trip” (featuring Miguel).
His second studio effort embodies the struggle of commercial success and staying true to his heart. The battle of good vs. evil is Born Sinner’s overall tone. Cole also has producing credits on his whole album. Clap for him, the Roc Nation boy is smart. He came in a close second on the charts selling 297,922 units against Yeezus 328,800. Why should we care about numbers? Simply because when artists like J. Cole do well, it makes you feel like hiphop has more depth than what we hear on the radio. The opening track, “Villuminati” samples Biggie’s “Juicy”. On the track, he admits he “sometimes brags like Hov” and addresses the absurd ideals of the Illuminati. His emphasis on wealth and the misuse of money sets him apart from the regular rap crowd. In his open confession, he conveys he is no longer the broke college kid he was when he came on the scene, but he explains how fame comes with a price. You get the feeling J. Cole is not entirely comfortable with the money or fame he has gained on his way to stardom. There is an obvious conflict going on in Mr. Cole’s head. On one of my personal favorites “Rich N*****”, Cole shows why he is the people’s favorite. Cole keeps the connection to his fans as he explains this is “a song you can sing along with when you down, on some let you know you ain’t alone shit, when your momma ain’t at home cause she got a second job.” Somehow, he has remarkable confidence while second-guessing his place in the industry. He is conscious not to let himself get so far removed from the struggle that he can’t relate to his audience anymore. “Let Nas Down” is one his most honest records to date. Over a bluesy track he produced, Cole examines how his most successful single to date; ‘Work Out’ let his idol Nas down. He admits it may have been a subpar track but also fires back at the legend “You made ‘You Owe Me’ dog; I thought that you could relate.” Nas later responded with “You made Nas Proud” passing the torch to young Cole.
If you were expecting to get a clear picture of who Jermaine Cole is, he failed you. What you find is an honest depiction of what it must feel like to grow up in an industry that values money over content. It’s a battle of wanting success and fame and what to do when you get it. Better yet, what not to do.