Its been a busy few weeks in the world of Hip Hop with the releases of Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus‘, J.Cole’s ‘Born Sinner‘ and Jay Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail‘ and it wouldn’t be right of me not to give you guys my own opinion on these three albums now would it?
Instead of doing a review for each album as that can be both tiring and pretty boring I’m going to mix it up and give a comparative review. It was inspired by my dear friend Natalie and her messages this morning urging me to review the albums. So here it is gurl!
Having listened to all 3 albums a multiple of times I can safely says that in my own opinion J.Cole’s ‘Born Sinner‘ is easily the best. I am a bit biased here as I love J.Cole and in a parallel universe I’d want him to be my kid’s baby daddy but let me explain.
Maybe its my age but I’ve grown tired of listening to rappers speak about how they are greater than everyone else and how much money they have and all the rest of it. Kanye’s album is practically an ode to himself on how brilliant he is [See:’ I Am A God ft God‘]. And the whole idea on naming his album ‘Yeezus‘ was done so just to shock people which in itself is always a good marketing ploy. The reasoning behind having no media campaign or lead single or even cover art for the album was done so to emphasis the minimalistic approach to the album but Im kind of at a loss with that point because of the extensive use of auto tune throughout. But hey apparently he is God so he can do whatever he wants right? (again I am kissing my teeth). Critics have said this album is ‘art’ and its progressive in its production which no casual listener would really grasp. Sorry but I am not a casual listener of Kanye’s. I am a fan. I have seen him perform live. And this album is trash . It is as if this album is the soundtrack to someone having a mid life crisis. Its so disjointed and messy. Simple.
Jay Z’s ‘MCHG‘ was released only a few days ago and was backed by the collective minds Pharrel/Timbaland/SwizzBeatz among others and though it boasts some pretty awesome beats (the beat to ‘Tom Ford’ is INSANE!!!) the topics HOV is rapping about stay sadly the same. The topics covered in this album can be summarised like this;
- I am rich
- You are not rich
- I am married to Beyonce
- Oh yeah I’m rich
- and I’m married to Beyonce
- Did I mention I have a kid with the Beyonce? You know that woman I’m married to?
But thinking about it, from the viral Samsung advert which supported the album’s release the main focus was on the production and not its lyrical content so, though I am slightly disappointed with what Jay Z is rapping about, I am not all that surprised.
Compare this with Cole’s album which has solid production in that of ‘Power Trip‘ and ‘Crooked Smile‘ but alongside it the songs have actual depth and meaning to them. I have played this album in excess of over 30 times time since its release and each time I feel like Jermaine is taking me to CHURCH!!! And thats what I want in an album. I want to feel the words, get immersed in the beat and listen to someone who is RELATABLE. I understand many people find Cole boring and lacking any real star quality which is fair enough. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but from my POV please tell me at the age of 23 how I can relate to Jay Z rapping about his millions and Kanye thinking he is God?
This is not to say Jay and Kanye’s albums are trash and J.Cole’s is perfect. There are some moments in ‘Born Sinner’ which fall flat and I skip the track and I’d rather just get ratchet and blast ‘Blood On The Leaves’ or ‘Tom Ford’. But as a cohesive body of music which represents an artist in the next stage of their career, ‘Born Sinner’ ticks all the boxes and does it without making me feel like some peasant who is being sold un attainable dreams.
On a personal note I do feel Jay and Kanye’s album releases were shrouded in too many gimmicks which negated the main objective of these albums which was to give fans new music. Kanye offended the Christian community naming his album ‘Yeezus’ and so forth. While Jay Z struck up a deal with Samsung which allowed Samsung device owners the chance to download the album before general release. Now I am not sure if this is because neither of them thought they could follow the monumental success of ‘Watch The Throne’ and felt they needed something to help boost public interest but it does seem as if both rappers are having trouble finding their feet again on their own after ‘WTT’ which propelled them to new heights in their careers and birthed one of the biggest hype songs of the decade ‘Niggas in Paris‘. They have so much to live up to and every song they do will be compared to the songs on ‘WTT’ as already so many critics have cited there isn’t a ‘Niggas In Paris‘ type song on either’s new albums. They have a lot to live up to!
As the initial hype and build up behind all 3 releases slowly dies down it will be really telling which album will stand on its own two feet and keep the public interested for the rest of the year. For now though J.Cole can take pleasure in the irony that though he calls himself a ‘Born Sinner, the opposite of a winner’ he is the only one winning right now.