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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reverential yet Modern: The Future of Hip Hop
A few years ago, I went to see one of my favorite artists in concert, Janelle Monae. I quickly realized though, that almost the entire crowd was there not for her or Wale--but the opening act, J. Cole. Within minutes, Cole had the entire audience on their feet and rapping along with him. I didn't know his music at all, but found myself moving along with the crowd and...
Published 12 months ago by Madeline

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
If you're a J. Cole fan you know the guy is smart, has good delivery and can be creative. What's more you know he comes from several backgrounds and isn't just another dude from the street rapping about drugs and bitches. So I was disappointed with how much the album devolves into talkin about the role bitches and sex play in his life. Obviously as a guy who is blowing...
Published 11 months ago by Justin


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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reverential yet Modern: The Future of Hip Hop, June 18, 2013
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This review is from: Born Sinner [Explicit] (MP3 Music)
A few years ago, I went to see one of my favorite artists in concert, Janelle Monae. I quickly realized though, that almost the entire crowd was there not for her or Wale--but the opening act, J. Cole. Within minutes, Cole had the entire audience on their feet and rapping along with him. I didn't know his music at all, but found myself moving along with the crowd and smiling just because the vibe was so good. I had to wait two years though before I could go and buy his first album though. I wasn't that impressed to be honest. I thought that I had somehow mis-remembered how good Cole was.

Two years later though, J. Cole is back with the album I think he had always been trying to make. He even says as much on the brilliant "Let Nas Down." It's clear the label and Jay-Z made him release a far different debut album than he had intended originally. This though--this is where you really see him.

"Born Sinner" is both reverential as well as super modern musically. Cole hasn't hopped on the bandwagon of rap trends like having a girl sing all of his choruses or making the beats all dance tracks, but he is also not stuck in the past. His beats are clean yet with subtle touches that really elevate them like a jazz saxophone. He both samples as well as references tracks from the beginning of rap in a very respectful way-- A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, and Outkast all make appearances. Also, Cole very smartly pairs himself with some great collaborators like the Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman, Miguel and a choir who all provide a contrast to his rather deadpan delivery.

Lyrically Cole is a beast. He is introspective and thoughtful, sometimes bragging, sometimes telling stories. He's not afraid to really be vulnerable and honest in his questioning of some of his choices and his daily struggles. "Runaway" was especially poignant as he discusses racial issues and ties that back in with his own family history.

Now we do have to mention the elephant in the room though: Kanye West. It's not being unfair to compare the two--Cole is in fact begging for it. He knew exactly what he was doing when he released this album the same day as West dropped his. He forced himself into the conversation. And personally, I think his gamble worked. While ironically, Cole actually sounds like early West on a couple tracks, these two albums could not be more different. Where Kanye's is aggressive and arrogant to the extreme (the "I am a god" track hello), Cole is human and self-deprecating (see title track "Born Sinner"). Kanye is off "making art" with minimal electronic beats, but Cole focused on making one of the best hip hop albums of the year. So yes, West might be more revolutionary and his hype machine is massive right now, but at the end of the day I'm going to be listening to Cole's album.

Things that bother me: despite the fact that pretty much every rapper ever (including women) do this, the objectification of women on some songs does get annoying. The empowering message on "Crooked Smile" (featuring TLC) would mean a lot more if he could actually refer to women as neither a B***h nor a H*e.

Hands down one of the best albums's of the year. I would recommend to every lover of rap out there. This album is personal and really pushes the boundaries of what old school rap artists might sound like if they were making music in 2013. It's not a throwback, but an evolution of rap music. It's modern rap in the very best way possible.

***Update, Nas just dropped a remix to the already brilliant "Let Nas Down." Seriously, go look it up. It's so incredible to hear rappers who are more concerned about hip hop than silly made up beefs.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Born Sinner, June 18, 2013
man, cole REALLY delivered on 'born sinner' its so far ahead of his debut album which i could NOT get into at all. The album starts off well with 'villuminati' which features a famous biggie sample that fits in so perfectly. The song came under fire from over sensitive critics that focus on single words instead of listening to everything cole has to say but im not gonna get into that. This is the first album ive bought in a long time that feels like hit after hit when im playing it.
My top 5 changes often but right now i would have to say that it's, villuminati, rich ni***z, ni***z know(deluxe), land of the snakes and new york times(deluxe). I advise everyone that buys this album to buy the deluxe edition, it's worth it, the five bonus tracks aka 'Truly Yours, 3' are on a seperate disc. 'Born Sinner' is my AOTY so far(easy choice) and will most likely remain that. J. Cole may not outsell Kanye's 'Yeezus' but it's definately a much better listen for me.
Finally, if it's dope hip hop you are looking for then you cant go wrong with this, COP IT AND SUPPORT DOPE MUSIC.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Born Sinner > Yeezus, June 18, 2013
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Call me silly but this album is outshining over the hype that was Yeezus. I'm a fan of both of them but this is hip hop. The lyrics are telling and they are relative. It's not juvenile like the lyrics Kanye decided to spit on a lot of the Yeezus tracks. Also the production value of the tracks were manicured showing an integrity to the value of the music and the emphasis to the lyrics to the track. It's not trashy or degrading but speaking in a smart mannerism to the prose. Been a fan but this album is making me a believer of the future of hip hop. Also, this LP needs to be put on vinyl. It needs to be in my elitist collection. Damn.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, July 5, 2013
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This review is from: Born Sinner [Explicit] (MP3 Music)
As a Hip-Hop fan and fan of many types of music, this sophomore debut album is VERY REFRESHING! His lyrical ability places him among the elites in the music industry. J. Cole stays true to himself and his fans, as he delivers content heavy material over creative beats that take you on another story telling journey, one track after the next. I found myself listening to the album, not skipping one song. The blend of the last track and the first track easily transitions you into listening to the album again and again.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb Follow-Up Album from Cole; 4 Stars, June 18, 2013
J. Cole made the release date of June 18, 2013 even sweeter by releasing his highly anticipated effort Born Sinner (Deluxe Edition) the same day as Kanye West and Mac Miller's new efforts. While West's Yeezus [Explicit] is receiving the most buzz, perhaps J. Cole should be receiving equal, if not more 'love'. Born Sinner is an exceptional follow-up to J. Cole's debut effort, Cole World: The Sideline Story, one of 2011's best album. Intellectual and bold throughout, Cole's lyricism shows growth; he was already 'killing it'.

"Villuminati" opens, chocked full to the brim with allusions and brainy rhymes. It may be a bit heady to open, but it successfully shows Cole's skill. Criticizing what Cole considers falsehoods of televangelism (and perhaps the church itself) is "Kerney Sermon (Skit)", in which pastor Kerney Thomas advertises a Prayer Package meant to 'heal' hardships, etc. He follows up the skit with "Land of the Snakes", a cut in which he reminisces on his past, particularly his own hardships and a regrettable one-night stand. Remaining focused, Cole does not disappoint in the least. On the ubiquitous promo single "Power Trip", Cole continues to impress, as he suggests his girl has "Got me up all night, all I'm singing is love songs..." Overt about his feelings, Cole claims "...this has gotta be the longest crush ever..." while his partner in crime Miguel just 'wants you to want him.' After the love is gone, "Mo Money (Interlude)" proceeds, with J. Cole rapping about his previous lack of money and his 'come up'.

If "Mo Money" causes problems, then the superb "Trouble" is the reaction and effect. The MC is all about real talk, accompanied by a relatively simple buttressing beat and a soulful sounding gospel choir. On "Runaway", Cole claims "The devil got his hands on me...", again alluding to his sins/vices, which seem to be women, as he brags about the 'notches on his belt' compared to teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. His issues continue on "She Knows", featuring Amber Coffman, in which he alludes to MLK, Jr.'s 'womanizing,' going so far to acknowledge Coretta's knowledge of it. Maybe it's insensitive, but as Cole suggests at the beginning of the album, "it's way darker this time." He's angered on "Rich N****" claiming hardship will make you do things you don't want to or shouldn't do. He misses choir practice on "Where's Jermaine? (Skit)", only to partake of the "Forbidden Fruit" with standout colleague, Kendrick Lamar. Jazzy, magical, and completely distinct compared to his previous work, "Forbidden Fruit" begs for repeated listens.

On "Chaining Day", while the 'obvious' impropriety that Cole raps about is his overindulgence for Jesus pieces, the bigger picture is materialism in general. While he claims his current Jesus piece is his last, he 'back steps' on "Ain't That Some S***" ("OK I lied..."), in which he commits every perceived sin he can. Cole criticizes the country on "Crooked Smile" (featuring TLC), suggesting it's a "crooked smile braces couldn't even straighten". He wishes to please his favorite MC, Nas, but has "Let Nas Down" in the past, something he details on one of the effort's 'tour de forces'. He quasi-repents for his mistakes on "Born Sinner", in which he "...never got to church to worship lord, but please be merciful..." Unlike some deluxe versions, the deluxe edition of Born Sinner is well worth the extra monetary investment, particularly for standout "New York Times" featuring 50 Cent and Bas.

Ultimately, don't sleep on Born Sinner (Deluxe Edition). It is a superb effort through and through with no misses of note. There are more than enough 'standouts' to justify purchasing it - it's that good. Dark, wise, and enjoyable, this is a great addition to any rap music collection. 4 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant CLASSIC!, September 10, 2013
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J. Cole really came into his own with this album. Not only was this yet another project where he PRODUCED the hell out of it from top to bottom, but the result was history in doing so. Though the album debuted a # 2 on the charts, it still managed to go #1 within a 1 MONTH time period. If your a true (not just J. Cole fan) hip-hop fan this album is a MUST HAVE (press play & enjoy from start to finish album). The year isn't over, but Born Sinner gets the Best Hip-Hop album of 2013 in my book.
My personal favorite picks (even though I loved the whole album) are Crooked Smile, Power Trip, Chaining Day, Villuminati & Sparks Will Fly!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Rap, August 19, 2013
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This review is from: Born Sinner [Explicit] (MP3 Music)
J. Cole is the truth. This album is solid - from beginning to end. His production and lyrics are on point.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: Born Sinner, July 9, 2013
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Is Born Sinner up to par? The fact is, Born Sinner is an album that 99% of today's rappers would kill to have in their own discography. But J. Cole isn't 99% of today's rappers. Some critics will surely nitpick and find issues that, had this not been a J. Cole album, they would have normally looked past without a second thought. Fittingly, this unreachable standard that has been set for J. Cole is, in a sense, a set of horns and a halo in its own right. Meeting these expectations would surely secure legendary status for Cole, but until then, are we unjustly downgrading a superior album here? Born Sinner has everything you could ask for in a hip hop album: strong messages, excellent lyricism, great production, varying formulas, authenticity, vulnerability and a focused concept. Let's take a moment to appreciate that for what it is: no matter who the creator, this is quality hip hop.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great All Around Album, June 26, 2013
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This review is from: Born Sinner [Explicit] (MP3 Music)
Chose to purchase J.Cole's album over Kanye West's after all the negative reviews following Kanye's album and I have to admit it should have been a no brainer! This album is great all around from start to finish. One would think with having 21 tracks that a couple songs would be "filler" material and not aligned with the album as a whole but I can say I let this album play entirely through back-to-back and enjoyed it just as much as the first play through.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Blood, July 4, 2013
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This review is from: Born Sinner [Explicit] (MP3 Music)
Buy the CD, this kid is amazingly talented, its been a while since a new artist has been this raw. I'm certain that we are witnessing the birth of greatness, perhaps one day someone will write a song titled "I let J. Cole down."

Tired of waiting, would somebody please crown the new KING!
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