’13 Best Albums #4: J.Cole Born Sinner

Written By: @BdotTM January 10, 2014 @ 3:07 PM EDT

Opposite Of A Loser.

Sometimes success isn’t satisfying. J.Cole crafted his second album Born Sinner to right the wrongs of his Cole World: Sideline Story 2011 debut. No more stop-and-go single releases and pleading with Roc Nation for a release date, Jermaine’s got gold and platinum plaques on the wall which gave him the opportunity to do things his own way this time around.After a brief misstep with “Miss America,” Cole proved he was worthy of independence.

Paired with Miguel, “Power Trip” is the best rap song of the year if “Started From The Bottom” never happened. It’s a pretty perfect single that still sounds as fulfilling as it did when it dropped on Valentine’s Day. Almost as engaging is the current airplay champ “Crooked Smile” where Cole defends his grill’s imperfections and relates it to the pressures women go through in society as they are judged by their beauty. With these two strong singles, Cole’s styled on us.

Yup the confidence is up as evidenced by the vigorous opener “Villuminati” but the sense of humor is also intact. Cole recalls a convo with Mrs. Carter: “Beyonce told me she want to cop the blue Bugatti/That shit is more than what I’m worth/I think she knew it probably.” Y’all already know how Cole “Let Nas Down”; what a great team he and Kendrick Lamar make (“Forbidden Fruit”) and how Cole was super ballsy in making an OutKast classic his own with “Land Of Snakes.”

Still the heart of this album revolves around relationships. “Trouble” talks about those enticing bad girls. “Runaway” is about struggling with infidelity and the next song, “She Knows” reiterates the same subject matter backed by a clever Cults-sample. Cole rhymes, “This is Martin Luther King in the club/Getting dubs/With a bad bitch in his ear/Sayin that she’s down for whatever/In the back of his mind is Coretta.”

No Cole isn’t ruling the rap game. But 2013 is the year, he truly became his own man. A gifted storyteller who can make commercial hits but still remain connected to his devoted fanbase who continue to expand daily. He coined the phrase “new legends” and won’t rest until he proves that sentiment to be true.—YN

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  • LOL

    Born Sinner > Nothing Was The Same

  • Jinx

    Dope Album
    Real Content
    Real Lyrics
    Dope Music!!!

  • Drake

    only reason im gonna complain is cuz i know u guys r proly gonna put Magna Carta in the top 3 which is another prime example of YN’s dick ride game for Hov. i know he cuts your checks but CMON SON, this nigga made 90% album by himself. Who does that these days?

    • wow

      Great Point! YN missed the production aspect altogether. Cole can easy argue album of the
      year because of that fact…. Drake less 40, probably wouldn’t even be
      on this list. Jay-Z and Timbo didn’t really hit it on the mark with
      Magna Carta. Eminem shit was pretty underwhelming imho!

    • That Guy

      Agree with you dawg but let’s leave that when it gets the top 3 spots, which it will. Show Cole love here

    • marty mcfly

      Just cause Cole makes his own beats doesn’t necessarily mean his production is fire though. I personally think Cole would sound way better over other peoples beats over there at Roc Nation. Hit Boy, No ID, Just Blaze etc….

      • marty mcfly

        Coles beats are sleepy as fuck.

  • That Guy

    Only fault with the album: bit too many songs that should NOT have been on the album; they should’ve been replaced with songs like “Tears for ODB” from Truly Yours. BUT, nevertheless tracks like “Villuminati” and that exchange between him and Nas with “Let Nas Down” and “Made Nas Proud” are timeless moments for hip-hop, so… do you boo boo.

  • Dashing28

    No one’s gonna like this comment but oh well…I’ll preface

    Not mad at the placement here. I’m a big Cole fan, saw him perform in NYC before Friday Night Lights even dropped.

    Born Sinner is a good album, but I have high expectations/hopes for Cole and this didn’t fulfill them. The 4 standouts “Crooked Smile” “Let Nas Down” “Power Trip” and “Forbidden Fruit” are all dope, but when you look beyond that there was just too much filler. Also, Cole is a pretty good producer, but he’s not Kanye(who had already made classics for big names years before he released an album). And when you think of the best MCs they’ve had top notch production with them to make classics. Eminem (Dre), 50 Cent (Dre), Jay (Just Blaze, Ye, Neptunes, Timbaland), Kanye (Kanye) Nas (Premo, Pete Rock, Large professor, Salaam Remi, NO ID). Even Drake has 40 and Boi1da. The best Common albums had someone helming whether it was NO ID, Ye, or Dilla. Kweli and Hi Tek. Guru and Premier.

    You ever notice how dope Cole sounds as a featured artist (They Ready, Just Begun, Black Grammy’s, TKO, Fitted Cap, Looking for Trouble, Beautiful Bliss etc.)The common complaint about Cole is that he’s too boring.(Kenny Lofton should’ve been on here) A lot of that is what comes out of the production. But J Cole over Just Blaze, illmind, 9th Wonder, Justice League, Kanye. That would be dope.

    Again, I like the album but I’m still waiting for that undeniable classic Cole album.

  • YouGonEatYourCornbread

    born sinner was dopeee but let me guess RR gonna make nothing was the same number 1 lol

  • Word

    This, MMLP2, Watching Movies, My Name are my indisputable top 4. 5 fluctuates between Drakes album, Gifted, Hall of Fame, A$AP, and so on. Love of em on different days but the top 4 stays the same.

  • Ya jokes 77

    No way this album shouldn’t be top 3 of the year enough said he practically produce the whole album by himself

  • Peekay

    i like this guy but this album is OVERRATED. As is Yeezus and Magna will be.

  • Hussle

    My #1 album this year

  • Ibrahima Niang

    better then the mmlp2



  • skinny

    Thought this was gonna rank one or two a really “Real” album subjects hit close to home and can be felt he’s probably the most genuine artist out and this album solidified that down to the bonus disc there probably isn’t one bad song

  • bigfoot2011

    This album put me to sleep and I actually love lyrics. This dude is monotone. No inflection in his voice and no variation in subject matter

  • carl grimes

    should be number 1