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J. Cole’s Album “Born Sinner” Review

Before J.Cole dropped his famous no feature, triple-platinum album “Forest Hills Drive” he dropped “Born Sinner.” There is often a big discussion about which of the two is the better album. However, while “Forest Hills” is an incredible album, “Born Sinner” is often forgotten in Cole’s large-and-still-rising collection of music. 

Cole began working on this album just a week after his first. From the start, you can tell that “Born Sinner” is seemingly a blend between Cole’s debut album “Cole World: The Sideline” and the aforementioned “Forest Hills Drive.” Cole rhymes not only about money and the glory that comes with being on top of the world, but also how lonely the top really is. The album, like many of the albums that have been discussed over this past month in the Round Table, is a reflective one. Cole even said it himself when he announced the album, as well as discussing the role of basketball in his previous works in a discussion via Ustream “That metaphor and that storyline had really ended,” he said. “Metaphorically I was just a kid working to get on this basketball team, got cut – that was “The Come Up”, then “The Warm Up” was like, alright I made the team, I’m on the team, now what? I’m not in the game, I’ll just ride the end of the bench. Then “Friday Night Lights” was like ‘come on man, you’re still not gonna put me in the game? What I gotta do? Here, I’m gonna kill it in practice. “Sideline Story” was like, ‘Wow, I really am starting now, and I feel like I ended that chapter when it’s all said and done.’ Plus, this new theme is really more reflective of where I’m at and where I’ve been at for the past two years, so it was just perfect to move on.” 

Cole’s album has many phenomenal tracks and none miss a beat. The album also has very strong features from the likes of Miguel, 50 Cent, Bas and, of course, rival Kendrick Lamar, who is featured on the track “Forbidden Fruit.” What makes this track so special in particular is that the beat for this particular track is the same beat as “Neighbors” from Cole’s “For Your Eyez Only” except the beat is backwards, showing just how creative Cole is when it comes to musical production. “Forbidden Fruit” makes one wonder what a full album with these two would sound like. However, while Cole does rap about money, he also digs into the politics of money and wealth in the interlude titled “Mo Money,” where he discusses the different types of money and how even Jay-Z (at the time) would be considered broke compared to old money and how black’s are “Always broke because we don’t know money.” It will make you wonder about how you’ve invested your money and if it was truly worth it. It was easily one of my top tracks on the album. And the track is only a minute and eighteen seconds long compared to the full-length album, which is an hour-and-a-half long. 

However, another one of my personal choices is the track “Miss America,” which arrives near the end of “Born Sinner.” The lyrics on this track are phenomenal, hungry and most importantly motivational with statements such as, “Fuck the man, Uncle Sam I won’t sell your crack I won’t fight your wars, I won’t wear your hat, I’mma pass your classes, I’mma learn your craft.” This line reminds individuals that while the country, and even the world itself, is trying to force you down that doesn’t mean you have to break. Instead, learn the craft and chase your dream by any means. 

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