J Cole keeps the lyrical spotlight firmly on himself as he grants the rest of the album's guest slots to vocalists that complement his eloquent wordplay.
J Cole: Born Sinner
Roc Nation, Columbia
J Cole’s highly anticipated second effort Born Sinner sees the 28-year-old MC dabbling with themes of original sin and battling with the existential dilemmas that go hand-in-hand with fame.
With Kendrick Lamar providing the only rap cameo on the disc (Forbidden Fruit), J Cole keeps the lyrical spotlight firmly on himself as he grants the rest of the album’s guest feature slots to vocalists that complement his eloquent wordplay. TLC sing on the chorus on the self-esteem anthem Crooked Smile, the album’s token radio hit comes in the form of the Miguel-assisted single Power Trip, and the R&B vocalist of the moment James Fauntleroy gets busy on the album’s title track.
The verbose lyricist reveals his insecurities on Let Nas Down, a confessional track that recounts the story of how he felt when his idol, the rapper Nas, slated his 2011 radio hit Work Out. Although Cole’s unapologetic candour is admirable, one can’t help but feel that he should have channelled his energy into making a classic album of Nas proportions as opposed to wallowing in sorrow over his disapproval.
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