Cole under pressure gives us diamonds
J. Cole’s sophomore album Born Sinner gives listeners a look at a darker, more introspective J. Cole. Stories of temptation, struggles with infidelity and newfound materialism are skilfully intertwined over largely expansive, melodic instrumentation. Cole’s progression as a producer is apparent, while his storytelling skills that he is known for are still present, and intriguing as ever.
Cole’s intentions for this album are put forward immediately in the album’s opening track. “It’s way darker this time”, Cole states before launching into a vicious five- minute verbal onslaught, throwing subtle jabs at fellow rappers like Trinidad James. Villuminati, like all but two other tracks on the album, is self- produced and contains a sample of Notorious B.I.G.’s Juicy. This aggressive, braggadocios Cole returns on songs such as Trouble and Ain’t That Some Shit.
For the rest of the album, however, Cole sticks to themes of a deeper message. Power Trip, the record’s leading single, uses personification of the music business to compare it to a woman with whom he is in a troublesome relationship. The visuals for the track portray Cole as a love struck man, who ends up murdering the boyfriend of the woman he is in love with.
Watch the official Power Trip music video here:
J. Cole breaks down the Power Trip beat:
The album’s second official single Crooked Smile, which recently won a BET award for Best Impact Video, can be seen here:
The project has plenty of standout tracks in which Cole presents the expressive artist fans have grown to love, such as Let Nas Down, Power Trip, and Crooked Smile. An album that always promised much, Born Sinner did not fail to deliver, as Cole successfully met commercial standards as well as the expectations of die-hard fans, a balancing act which he didn’t quite achieve with his debut effort. Cole’s hard work and evolution as an artist is evident in an album that is not without room for improvement, but will definitely remain in many a hip-hop fan’s play list and conversation for a number of years to come. 8/10.