J. Cole’s Born Sinner: Album Review Roundup

By Henna Kathiya

Competing withYeezus on a big release date deserves much respect. J.Cole intentionally pushed his album drop date to June 18 and when it leaked, he offered up a stream instead of pretending it didn’t happen. Check out what critics have to same about the Roc Nation rapper’s sophomore album Born Sinner, which is almost entirely self-produced.

Verbal Powerhouse
“Sometimes I brag like Hov/ Sometimes I’m real like Pac,” J. Cole raps on his second LP. Sometimes he’s both – a verbal powerhouse and a self-emptying truth-sayer. The flagship signee to Jay-Z’s record label spins dervish rhymes over dazzling self-produced tracks (see the Outkast-sampling “Land of the Snakes”). His riffs on racism, homophobia and misogyny have more lyrical cunning than insight. But when it comes to twisting himself into Kanye-size pretzels of career-oriented real talk, he’s a champ. –Jon Dolan Rolling Stone.

Humble & Smart
“J. Cole’s “Born Sinner” is at the other end of the universe from Kanye West’s latest — a quieter, self-examining rap record that’s short on audacity but long on workman-like singles. Cole’s not an especially charismatic MC, but he has a welcome self-awareness and good taste in backdrops. But his verses are well-greased machines that are often forgettable (Kendrick Lamar somehow packs more personality into a halfhearted hook on “Forbidden Fruit” than Cole gets in the song). Humility goes a long way on rap radio today; but then again, so does gobsmacking arrogance and invention.” – August Brown, LA Times.

Well Earned
“While Born Sinner is J. Cole’s second full length album, his handful of mixtapes (The Come Up, The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights) and EPs (Truly Yours, Truly Yours 2) were practically albums, making this his seventh project. It feels like Cole is seasoned enough to complain about the woes of stardom while still bragging a little bit about the finer side of it. If there is one critique to be offered, it’s that his self-production errs on the side of redundant and he could stand a few super producer beats on his next project. Still, Born Sinner is a well-rounded package from an artist who has fought tooth and nail to achieve his position in Rap. It’s about time someone has received what they’ve earned.” – Kathy Iandoli, Idolator.

Skillfully Mastered
“Born Sinner was stellar, and a big step up from Cole’s previous work. Although “Born Sinner” is filled with stadium-sized beats, the album has intimate moments that shine as well. Yes, nowadays Yeezy is onto the abrasive, high-art futurism of “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead,” but hearing Cole update his old trademarks so skillfully almost make you miss a Kanye that was aiming to please more than challenge. – Alex Gale, Billboard.

Superb, Solid Production
“Cole continues to live up to the hype he initially got from rap great Jay-Z, delivering an assortment of quality songs on his sophomore album, Born Sinner. Like his 2011 debut album, the 28-year-old primarily produces his new offering with some help from No I.D. and Elite. Cole shows improvement as a producer and lyricist, spitting rhymes with honesty and clarity throughout the 16 tracks, which include two entertaining skits and two interludes. Overall, Born Sinner is a treasure: Cole paints pictures with his superb rhymes and sets the mood nicely with his solid production.” –Jonathan Landrum Jr. Huffington Post.