While scrolling the blogs last night for new music, I see a new Big Sean record – well I thought it was a Big Sean record – titled “Control” featuring Kendrick Lamar and a ghost named Jay Electronica. I’m finishing this writing prompt and listening to Sean on the first verse when I get a phone call. I stop what I’m doing and take it because she’s great and almost forget about the song until my phone starts blowing up with messages like, “did you hear it?” and “bruh…why’d he do that?” I get a missed call from one of my boys who usually hits me whenever something really dope is happening Hip-Hop wise. We may have talked for about fifteen more minutes and as soon as we hung up, I called him back. I can’t remember the exact introduction but I’m pretty sure I ended it with, “Look, I gotta hear this verse and get back to you.” Twitter was blowing up, it just seemed like a moment – one of those moments as a fan of Hip-Hop culture – I needed to witness in real time.
Roc Nation, LLC
J. Cole’s not gonna take this underdog shit laying down. Period.
His debut, “Cole World: The Sideline Story” was good, but not good enough. It left some of his fans disappointed, but they still supported him because he gave them so much great music via his first mixtapes that you couldn’t help but support the guy. At the same time, what’s a young Jermaine to do? Fall back and lick his wounds, or fall back and sharpen his sword?
By the sounds of Born Sinner, Cole did the latter. Returning with a much darker album than the last. The set takes us through Cole’s mind as he tackles the typical topics: Love/sex, money, self-esteem, & acceptance as an artist. He comes out swinging with the gospel choir powered “Villematic.” and after jacking Outkast’s “The Art of Storytelling, Pt 1″ for the excellent “Land of the Snakes,” he hits a comfortable stride. The lead single, “Power Move (feat. Miguel) still sounds fresh. The first of several interludes, “Mo Money” should have been one more verse. Here, like elsewhere, Cole spits like a man determined to make an impact. The same goes for “Ain’t That Some Shit,” which finds Cole going in double time. “Trouble” brings the choir back to help with the backdrop. “Forbidden Fruit” samples the same track as Tribe’s “Electric Relaxation.” Kendrick Lamar bodies the hook, which is an exclamation point on Cole’s ability to put the right artists in the right place, and not just have them on a track for the hell of it. Other standouts include the TLC (yes, you read that right) featured “Crooked Smile.” In what I would guess should be an obvious single choice, Cole points out his own imperfections, but urges folks to embrace who they are and love themselves. The most talked about track here is “Let Nas Down,” penned after NO I.D. hit up Cole to tell him that Nas hated the single from his last album. Honest and candid, it’s easily the best track on the album. The title track comes at the end of the standard edition’s sequence, and it closes the opus on the right note.
Truth is, Cole is improving by leaps and bounds, and it shows on Born Sinner. He didn’t rely on a bunch of super-producers and a collaborators to fill his set with dope material. He pretty much went at it alone, and he actually kicks ass throughout. He’s slowly but surely carving out a lane that’s all his. That’s definitely commendable.
We find J. Cole in a reflective mood discussing various aspects of his life for this track “Niggaz know.” Born Sinner will be in stores June 18th.
“If you’re sharing your success and not your struggle yous a fool“
- Nipsey Hussle
The sophomore jinx is a very real thing for Hip-Hop artists, as we have seen numerous sub-par second efforts to great albums. It is tough to put an album “that good” and follow up the success of the first one, even those who have held the crown as “Best Rapper Alive” struggled with it; from the overly commercial In My Lifetime Vol. 1 from Jay-Z to Lil’ Wayne’s Lights Out, recreating the magic is hard work.
In the second episode of his Bornsinner.com series, Cole gets some insight from Kendrick Lamar. Speaking about his early music influences as well as advise from friends Jason Estrada and Erykah Badu, he drops some true gems. Born Sinner hits stores June 25th.
After releasing a new joint last night, RocNation emcee J. Cole presents five additional new tracks! Young Jeezy and 2 Chainz join Cole this time around.
Download Mixtape (Alt. Link)
As quietly and unexpected as usual, J. Cole drops off a new, self-produced, freebie! Stream/download it below…
Directed by Mike Piscitelli and Nabil
Cole takes it back home as Fayetteville, NC is the location for the official visual for his Miguel-assisted single, Power Trip. Cole also announced last night that his highly anticipated sophomore LP Born Sinner hits stores June 25th!