J. Cole’s follow up album to his 2011 debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story, will be released in about a week. There is a lot of buzz surrounding the new album after Cole pushed the album’s release to compete with Kanye’s Yeezus on June 18th. Cole made it clear that he wanted to compete with Kanye and may have also been inspired by Ye’s marketing when he hosted a listening session with fans in 9 cities at the same time. Cole’s innovative approach may have caused the album to leak, but in this day in age albums leaking before their release is almost inevitable.
Born Sinner’s opening track, “Villuminati,” definitely kicks off the album properly. The track features a clever Biggie sample on the hook (which certainly inspired the album’s title) with Cole talking about his hate/love relationship with Jay-Z throughout the song. The Illuminati is a topic that is brought up on the intro and is definitely revisited throughout the rest of the album. Other early favorites on the album are “Mo Money” and “Ain’t That Some Shit.” Both of the tracks are interludes on the album and the latter is my favorite. It might be the catchy instrumental or the fact that it comes immediately after Cole’s track “Chaining Day,” on which he speaks on the guilt he feels when buying expensive jewelry. The interlude completely throws everything Cole preached on “Chaining Day” out of the window.
The new album doesn’t have many features besides Miguel’s hook on the hit track, “Power Trip.” The track was the lead single for the new album and definitely help build anticipation for what was one of the most anticipated hip hop albums in 2013 already. J. Cole has no guest verses on the new album and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise since his debut album only had guest verses from Jay-Z and Drake. Kendrick Lamar is featured on Born Sinner, but the Compton rapper only handles hook duties on “Forbidden Fruit.” The song is still a strong point on the album and we can only hope that a remix is released with a verse from K. Dot. The other notable feature on the album comes from the legendary TLC on “Crooked Smile.” The song has the potential to follow “Power Trip” as the album’s next big single.
J. Cole’s production definitely shines throughout the entire project, as it usually does. I am not entirely sure if Cole handled the production on every track other than “Ain’t That Some Shit,” but it definitely sounds like he did. We won’t know for certain until the official production credits are released closer to the album’s release date or even on the day of its release. Some of my favorite instrumentals on the album are “She Knows,” “Trouble,” and “Rich Ni**gaz.” The hook for “She Knows” sounds like something Cole’s fellow Dreamvillain Omen would have come up with; it would have been nice to have a verse from Omen on that track.
One of the most talked about tracks prior to the release of the album was “Let Nas Down.” Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg was the first person to bring the song’s title and concept to light. The song and title was indeed verified once the official tracklist was released. Cole does a great job in explaining the reasoning behind making the song. He talks about his struggle of making a hit single that would have given him the green light to release his debut album. He also talks about labels being archaic and not knowing he was building a fan-base that would eventually purchase his album and lead it to be the nation’s number one album in its first week. He will be relying on that fan-base to help him compete with Kanye West and Mac Miller on June 18th.
You can pre-order the new album on iTunes here.
Key Tracks: Villuminati, Forbidden Fruit, Let Nas Down, Ain’t That Some Shit, Power Trip, Crooked Smile