J. Cole Born Sinner

J. ColeBorn Sinner
While his debut album didn't secure the stardom Roc Nation expected, J. Cole has returned with sophomore effort Born Sinner, an unabashed story of musical dedication and malicious hunger. Born Sinner opens up with "Villuminati," a choir-heavy cut that samples Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juice." While it acts as an introduction to the following 15 songs, by looping B.I.G.'s infamous line, "born sinner, the opposite of a winner," it's clear Cole recognizes his underdog status. The concept of progress and impeding urgency to rise to the top of both "the game" and his own become consistent themes throughout. While radio hit "Power Trip," featuring Miguel, and "She Knows," assisted by Amber Coffman, demonstrate his softer side, revealing his tribulations in love, tracks like "Rich Niggaz" and "Let Nas Down" present a dark contrast. Exposing his musical insecurities, J.Cole explains his self-disappointment on "Let Nas Down," which was inspired after a harsh critique from one of his musical idols. With the exception of two numbers, the self-produced 16-track project revels in Timbaland drumlins ("Born Sinner") and soulful Kanye symphonies ("Chaining Day"). However, the standout cut samples A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation," featuring the only other rapper on the album: Kendrick Lamar. "Forbidden Fruit" embodies a silent confidence, paying homage to a legendary group while speaking on releasing an album the same day as Kanye West, bringing Born Sinner full-circle. Born Sinner is an honest account of Cole's growth and development, revealing his humble beginnings, challenging successes and bright future. (Roc Nation)