#1- J.Cole- ‘Born Sinner’
So this is it! After 10 days of giving you guys an insight into my favourite albums of the past 12 months we have finally made it to number 1. I feel to start singing Boyz 2 Men ‘End of The Road’ right about now as I type this but lets me stop getting off track.
Lets get straight to the point here and let me reveal to you which album I consider to be the best body of work of any artist this past year beating off competition from Justin Timberlake, Kanye West and his own mentor Jay Z. If that wasn’t the biggest hint I could of given you then I don’t know what to tell you except to spell it out for you. Yes guys, the title of the best album of the year goes to no other than J.Cole with his sophomore effort ‘Born Sinner’.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me because I absolutely adore J.Cole but I haven’t chosen this album to take the top spot purely because I like him, I have my reasons!
What made this album so much better than anything else released in 2013? Thats simple really, of all the albums released this year this is the only album that had SUBSTANCE. Say it with me guys! ‘SUBSTANCE‘. Something that is so painfully missing from most music in this day and age that I’m certain some kids today aren’t used to listening to a song with an actual message beyond bitches and pussy. This album wasn’t just a collection of songs with club orientated beats about getting turnt up in the club and sipping Ciroc. It had a insightful lyrics with a message that I could relate to. Another buzz word there guys; RELATABLE!!
Compared to his peers and the albums they released this year how in the hell am I mean’t to relate to Jay Z when he talks about being married to Beyonce and how rich he is? How can I relate with Kanye when he screams and shouts about the corporations hating him because he is black? I can’t!
And as I’m getting older I’m growing out of listening to this sub genre of hip hop where the message is about how rich they are and poppin’ bottles in the club. Something went wrong during the evolution of rappers because we don’t have rappers who are story tellers anymore. We have rappers who brag and rappers who sell us dreams and an ideal that without money and bitches you’re nothing.
J.Cole brought story telling back to music with ‘Born Sinner’ and it wasn’t about radio friendly hooks or big punch lines that’ll make everyone in the club go nuts. It was about him telling us his story, whether it is his heart ache (Power Trip), how we should embrace our imperfections (Crooked Smile) or his favourite theme; infidelity (She Knows). These are all real issues that real people face day to day and I love J.Cole for voicing these them.
Unwittingly, J.Cole also took it back to the days of rappers battling it out for the number 1 spot and it was a great thing to see. He decided to release his album the same day as Kanye West released ‘Yeezus’ which is a bold move from a guy who is only on his second album and going up against a veteran like Kanye. Cole didn’t win the battle as Kanye beat him to the top spot but only by 30, 000 copies and that in itself is a damn good feat. It wasn’t about the hype it was about the music and who was the best and it showed when J.Cole ended up out selling Kanye West a few weeks later and reached the top spot.
QUALITY PREVAILED IN THE END!
And I can’t mention how much I love ‘Born Sinner’ without mentioning ‘Let Nas Down’. The song acted like a confessional from J.Cole explaining how hurt he was that his idol Nas disliked his first album and thought he wasn’t being true to himself. It was a sweet gesture to his idol and showed how humble J.Cole is that even though he went on to sell millions, it mattered to him whether his idol liked it or not. Clearly moved by this Nas then went on record and released his response ‘Made Nas Proud’ which sent Twitter into a frenzy and will probably go down as one of the best moments for Hip Hop in 2013. And I loved seeing rappers unite for a change. A battle now and again for sales is fine, thats part and parcel of being in the industry but to see one generation support the next was just great to see.
It wasn’t about just the music with this album, it went a lot deeper than that and thats why I love it so much. While listening to this album I found myself sitting and thinking ‘DAMN THIS GUY IS SPEAKING THE TRUTH!’ It was as if the Cole of ‘Friday Night Lights’ was in hiding during his debut album but made his triumphant return this year with his dark, hard hitting and brutally honest social commentary on ‘Born Sinner’.
People will always be divided when it comes to J.Cole, on one hand you have people like me who respect and appreciate his story telling style of rap. Then on the other hand you have those who consider J.Cole boring and monotonous. It does depend on what you are looking for when it comes to music. But I don’t see what is wrong with having music that has a story or a message to tell. Its not as if this album doesn’t appeal to the clubs either.
‘Born Sinner’ has remained a firm favourite of mine since I first listened to it back in June, I spent most of summer blasting this album at the gym, driving on the motorway or just chilling at home. And with every listen I just loved this album more and more. It has depth, it has substance and it has humility. A quality that was missing in most rappers this year.
And the best thing about ‘Born Sinner’? Its only his second album and if this is what he has to offer already, who knows what else this guy has up his sleeve.
Congratulations to J.Cole’s ‘Born Sinner’ on being titled colour offensive’s Top Album of 2013.