Born Sinner is an album that deals with spiritual troubles in a normal human being, something like spiritual war. Cole deals with loads of temptation as the money, fame and women settle in his own household. He finds himself struggling to remain true and original. The story he tells cuts from songs that display him as some sort of a preacher like for instance on “Chaining Day“, where he ridicules people and their highest priority of how much money is around their neck. He compares it to sort of a “sell your soul for a chance to wear a expensive chain bargain”. Cole spits “If a hater snatch your chain/I swear it still won’t free you.”
Jermaine tries to compete with his mentor Jay Z, straight out opening up with a lyrical display of him modeling himself after his boss. “Sometimes I brag like Hov” phrase on the hook, under the classic sound of Notorious B.I.G.’s voice in the background “Born Sinner, the opposite of a winner, remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner.” He goes on throughout the LP with several references to Uncle Hovi. “Allow me to re-introduce myself/My name is Cole” referencing to Jay’s “Public Service Announcement” off The Black Album. He talks about how he actually idolizes Sean Carter and his early dealings with Jay when he didn’t even pay him any mind. 2 years later, Hov signed him.
The album cuts to skits like “Kerney’s Sermon” & “Where’s Jermaine“. Pastor Kerney Thomas and his money making ways through the word of God supports the Born Sinner theme entirely. There are times in the album when he is a truly troubled soul, needing that positive fix to become a better man. In “Runaway” we see Cole with a wifey type of woman but yet can’t trade up messing around with the “bad bitches” of the industry. You clearly see how real of a human being he is or what most women would refer to as the ideal behavior of a young man. His eyes constantly wander as he talks “there’s a whole lot of actresses I like to bone.”
“Rich Niggaz” deals with trust fund babies and not knowing what it’s like to struggle. Cole remembers to put them in place on this one.
Still on the dark side of things, we get to “Power Trip” first official single off Born Sinner. Jermaine mentions “Dreams” a track off his mixtape “The Warm Up” in which he becomes obsessed with a girl to where he fantasizes about killing her boyfriend.
On the “Mo Money (Interlude)” we hear how more money seriously contributes to more problems. It’s coming full circle for Jermaine Cole. “Blacks always broke because they don’t know money” – Cole taps into the politics of the world with poverty and greed, saying that the population spends money before they get it.
The album being fully produced by J.Cole shows that he is embracing his inner Kanye from those pre-college dropout days. Ye was the man building his sound producing many albums from artists on the original Roc-A-Fella roster. Cole has proven that his skills as a producer do not undermine his rapping ability, it matches his rapping skills to the max. He is just as good of a producer as he is a rapper. The track schemes were all carefully orchestrated in Born Sinner. Cole remained Consistent in the sound from the transition of Yours Truly 2 to the dark Born Sinner.
The quality in his production actually reflects in melodic tracks like “Crooked Smile” with TLC, and the title track “Born Sinner” with James Fauntelroy who say acclaim when he collaborated with Drake on “Girls Love Beyonce“. The ability to successfully make a catchy string of hooks and melodies makes you a great producer. But lyrically, Cole is an assassin on this album.
The 2nd last track “Let Nas Down” which was highly anticipated track we hear Cole being apologetic for sacrificing art to fit into that mainstream mold that he never really was meant for. He is very sensitive to Nas’ opinions on his career and deals with his insecurities as a rapper. “Long live the idols, may they never be your rivals/Pac was like Jesus / Nas wrote the Bible / Long live our idols / May they never be our rivals,” he spits.
The mood of the album included a very dark theme sorta like if recent batman Director Christopher Nolan were helming the creative process of this album. Cole intricately wove all his killer punch lines and hooks in one gift box and tied a nice bow over it. Cole displays his 90’s influences sampling Biggie Smalls on “Villuminati“, Outkast on “The Land of Snakes“, and “A Tribe Called Quest” on the Kendrick featured track “Forbidden Fruit“. Cole ended up putting a rapper on his album when he previously promised not to. Kendrick is that special of a rapper and enhances the sound of anyone’s music.
Lyrically, this album is a pure demonstration of growth and maturity. Cole seemed to be himself on this album. Cole World: The Sideline Story although introduced his rap ability, it still lacked truth & catered more to the mainstream crowd. Born Sinner serves as Cole’s baptism to a preview of rap’s next legend. All other rappers need to Watch The Throne, literally.
J.Cole decided to push up his release date to compete with fellow comrade Kanye West’s album “Yeezus” to presenting the album in 8 cities in the world through an app Lisnr, similar marketing to Yeezy’s music video projections on buildings.
Jermaine Cole has reached the heavens and his new record shows just that. Cole has reintroduced himself as an artist. Born Sinner makes one thing clear: He is here to stay and bring real Hip-Hop back. You decide for yourself on June 18th when the album drops if your mind isn’t made up already. Don’t forget to Pre-order the album but we recommend purchasing a physical copy of his art piece in stores.
Mark The Date: 6/18/13
Signed, Sealed & Delivered,