3. J. Cole – Born Sinner
Released via Roc Nation (Buy Here)
J. Cole has been one of my favorite artists since I heard The Warm Up way back when, and the release of his second retail album Born Sinner this year was obviously one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and unlike Kanye West or Kid Cudi, Cole actually delivered with his album. J. Cole stay true to his sound, and while the obvious J. Snore comments didn’t go away in 2013, we got what I would consider J. Cole’s most complete project thus far in his career with Born Sinner. Cole handled all the production besides Jake One & Syience providing beats for two interludes, and the production was on point as ever.
J. Cole did not completely reinvent himself on Born Sinner, but he did show a bit of growth conceptually and sonically. He crafted a 16 track album that was like an autobiography, with it’s hit radio singles fitting perfectly into the album’s script and never getting old. I could listen to ‘Power Trip’ everyday for the rest of my life and it will never get old. His single ‘Crooked Smile’ was a great personal ode that seamlessly turned into a potential Top 40 hit that reached #27 on the Billboard 100 and was certified gold recently. The album does not reach any pinnacles besides ‘Power Trip’ & the final two tracks ‘Let Nas Down’ & ‘Born Sinner’, but the album never reaches the valleys of filler tracks from a Trinidad James mixtape either, and a lot of artists have problems with crafting a full album without those craters. Cole namely focuses on the down-points of his life, but the whole moment of Nas accepting J. Cole with his ‘Made Nas Proud’ track was one of the highlights of hip-hop in 2013 and showed signs of hope of the old-school accepting new-school artists. Maybe if we had more artists like J. Cole, that would happen.