J. Cole’s second album Born Sinner seems him stake a bold claim to be footballers’ favourite rapper, even ahead of Drake.
The beats, production and J. Cole’s flow are generally okay to good throughout album, so it’s a shame that he has precisely nothing of any interest to say whatsoever.
Take “Villuminati”: great shuffling beat, nice string sample, lovely smoky feel to the production, but it’s ultimately all just a platform for a procession of boasts interspersed with the likes of:
My verbal AK slay faggots / And I don’t mean no disrespect whenever I say faggot, okay faggot / Don’t be so sensitive / If you want to get fucked in the ass / That’s between you and whoever else’s dick it is / Pause, maybe that line was too far / Just a little joke to show how homophobic you are
Likewise this, from “Land of the Snakes”, which might well leave you grappling for subtext but finding the cupboard depressingly bare:
On the first night, nah I ain’t proud of it / I boned her in my dorm room and kicked her out of it / And I never called back, how thoughtfuless / Now I’m standing in the streets tryna politic with her
Not exactly Kendrick Lamar, is it? In case you’re wondering: no, thoughtfuless is not a word.
Look at those track titles: “Rich Niggaz”, “Mo Money”, “Power Trip”… There are attempts at sweetness on “Runaway” and “Crooked Smile”, but they too are laced with brags.
Most attention grabbing is “Let Nas Down”, an arrestingly honest account of his finding out that his hero worship for Nas was not reciprocated, but it ruins it all by ‘hitting back’ at him in the second and third verses.
J. Cole came into this many rungs below Nas and he doesn’t recover any ground with the lyrical likes of “I’m earnin’ stripes now nigga, got Adidas galore”.
You can deduct half a quail for that, straight off.
Born Sinner is out now on Roc Nation LLC.
One and a Half Quails out of Five!