Two years ago, J. Cole was ushered to stardom with the long awaited release of his debut Cole World: The Sideline Story. That gut wrenching CD rose to the top of the charts moving over 200,000 copies on its first week of release back in the fall of 2011. Fast forward two years later in this summer of 2013, J. Cole has just released his sophomore album entitled Born Sinner. His new album made its spectacular entry on the same day as Kanye West dropped his new album entitled Yeezus. Setting up for a very eventful day for Hip-Hop as a whole, J. Cole has more than a few surprises in this album.
J. Cole is in a much darker mood with this album than his previous effort. “Sideline” was much more of a celebrator in the fact that Cole was quite excited to finally be able to release music to the mainstream. On the flip side, “Sinner” deals with the temptations that surround celebrities while trying to keep morality in the eyes of God.
In this album, J. Cole has reached new high lyrically, even relating the pains he goes through when dealing with superstardom, much in the vein of Jean-Michel Basquiat—the legendary Haitian-American painter. Ironically J. Cole touches on Basquiat’s troubles in the song entitled Rich Niggaz. This is a song that deals with how quickly people would sell their souls for money, something that literally would have no value if there was no gold in the U.S treasury to represent the U.S dollars. However, Basquiat did not sell his values in exchange for fame and money, but he did struggle with superstardom. Many people who were following Jan-Michel seemed to think Basquiat’s struggle with fame might have led to his premature death in 1988.
In another song entitled Chaining Day, J. Cole talks about how young black men seem mused over the difference between being rich and being wealthy, because of their inability to stop spending their money on worthless materialistic things such as car rims, gold watches, and big necklaces that will either fade in fashion obscurity or become meaningless in a relatively short period of time.
Sonically, the coming of “Sinner” proves how much J. Cole has grown as an entertainer and music producer. The emotion that fills his raps goes really well with his assortments of instruments he uses to compose his music. J. Cole defiantly has a future ahead of him in the rap game. He has a great leader by his side in the name of Jay-Z. The career of J. Cole will be an interesting one as long as he gets better from album to album. Only time will tell.
Note: Dandy Isma is a sophomore at the University of North Florida. He is a new contributor here at CSMS Magazine.