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Kanye and Jay-Z asked us to watch the throne. But after two highly anticipated albums left fans feeling very underwhelmed and disappointed, someone needed to step up and fill the void. Luckily for us, Hov already signed him to his label. J. Cole’s sophomore album, Born Sinner, is the summer’s hip-hop album that we have been waiting for.
Cole began his work on it promptly after wrapping up his debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story. Large amounts of the project he produced himself, recruiting a number of big names, such as Miguel, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and TLC to collaborate. Overall, the sound of the album is very smooth, free from loud, aggressive “turn-up” theme that has dominated hip-hop this year. Born Sinner recalls the likes of Common or Lupe Fiasco, preferring to let Cole’s lyricism trace over light drums, choirs, and a variety of instrumental contributions.
Despite the effortless harmonies between his voice and his backings, the content of Cole’s rhymes deal with very deep, thought-provoking topics. As the title suggests, he muses over his own behaviors that have labeled him a sinner, as well as those of his peers. J. Cole admits time and time again throughout the album of his less than good treatment of the women in his life, his lack of understanding with managing his newly acquired wealth, and dealing with his haters. He does on to debate the nature of money and it’s tolls on society, nicely rounding out his tracks with a balance of narcissism and societal awareness.
Named as one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2013, Born Sinner certainly delivers two years of build-up. Equals parts chill-wave background music and inspirational songs, J. Cole’s latest is definitely worth a listen.