Thursday 20th June 2013 | Carla

J. Cole, the 28 year old American Hip Hop artist has just released his second studio album entitled Born Sinner. His latest album is a world away from his first album Cole World: The Sideline Story. His first album reflected a more pop vibe with upbeat tracks such as Can’t Get Enough and Work Out.

Born Sinner is somewhat a different direction for J. Cole as his music has a more mature and deeper sound. The first release from his album was his own produced Power Trip featuring Miguel (Quickie, Adorn) which entered the Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts at number 29 and made it to number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In the UK it reached number 46 in the singles chart… But I believe it should have been higher!

The single 'Born Sinner' is (I assume) J. Cole’s favourite as it took the name of the album. The song is quite a way away from new school music as this track has influences from artists such as Tupac and Biggie who also talk about the struggle and dealing with common temptation.  This track is a very personal one with him quoting moments in his life, and has a general message of him being just like everyone else in terms of what he goes through and feels. My interpretation of the song is that he is giving thanks to God who has always been there for him despite his mistakes. The beat of this song is very calm and relaxed; there isn’t a heavy beat which leads to me thinking he really wants his fans and listeners to take in the message of the song.

The album opens with Vuluminati and will leave anyone who has questioned J. Cole’s talent in the past speechless. Vuluminati is a good entry track as its upbeat, interesting and it displays his talent to the fullest. The song samples the late great Notorious B.I.Gs’ song Juicy, one of his biggest songs. J. Cole also copies Jay Zs’ famous line in his song Public Announcement ‘allow me to introduce myself, my name is…’. This song shows homage to those J. Cole has been influenced by and looks up to as the best in the Hip Hop game, past and present.

From the 21 track album, my favourite was his first released Power Trip. Being a fan of both J. Cole and Miguel it was amazing to see them pull of such a risky track especially as Miguel and J. Cole are from different generic backgrounds. Miguel stays loyal to his soulful R&B sound and J. Cole his Hip Hop sound. The song does them both a huge justice for their talent, it’s very rare we see two different genres of music come together and pull off a hit.

Other tracks to look out for on the album are Let Nas Down and Forbidden Fruit. Let Nas Down experiments with instruments such as the saxophone which gives the song a fresh jazz sound, and Forbidden Fruit featuring Kendrick Lamar (Swimming Pools, B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe) has a darker and enchanting feel; both songs straying from the traditional expectations of Hip Hop music.

The new album gives J. Cole a more serious and mature look, and also displays him as one who is capable of transformation. Although the album is controversial with many religious and spiritual references, it doesn’t stop it being my favourite album of the year, right next to Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience.  Featuring artists such as James Fauntleroy and TLC Jay Zs’ very own artist is one to watch. If this is what J. Cole can produce now, I look forward to future material.