Born Sinner - J. Cole
Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Three years after his album should have put the "sideline" comments to rest, Cole’s still studying the traditional playbook from the bench, preferring to follow Nas’ bible than strike out on his own.
  2. Jun 17, 2013
    80
    "Crooked Smile" with special guests TLC is a genuine, mature step in the right direction and will have no trouble reaching vintage age. A handful of other numbers carry that same weight, making Born Sinner a daring step forward for Cole and an exciting attempt at mastering Jay's Blueprint style.
  3. If Born Sinner proves anything, it’s that he’s not ready to take the fall, but he as a long way to go if he wants to rope off an area all his own in hip hop’s evolution.
  4. Jun 18, 2013
    70
    The flawed set is buoyed by its clear vision and diverse musicality.
  5. 60
    Allusions to apples are all across the 16 self-produced tracks, along with glimpses of snakes, countless temptations, and the feeling that Cole knows too much for his own good.
  6. Jun 19, 2013
    90
    Overall, Born Sinner is an impressive effort.
  7. 67
    He's a talented, nimble rapper, but diatribes like "Trouble" and "Land of the Snakes" are more exhausting than impressive; too often he comes off like a strident high school jock with a word-a-day calendar.
  8. Jun 17, 2013
    90
    Born Sinner is an honest account of Cole's growth and development, revealing his humble beginnings, challenging successes and bright future.
  9. Like Illmatic it eschews pop emoluments, and conceptually it's just as canny.
  10. Jun 18, 2013
    80
    The project succeeds in tying its theme of spiritual crisis amidst stardom to an analogy for the struggle to satisfy purists, but the overall results for this concept are fairly lackluster.
  11. Jun 18, 2013
    63
    Cole's not an especially charismatic MC, but he has a welcome self-awareness and good taste in backdrops.
  12. Jun 13, 2013
    80
    Like his debut disc, Cole World, Born Sinner displays an astute understanding of the male-female dynamic--or at least his contributions to the demise of his relationships.
  13. Jun 21, 2013
    60
    At its best, Born Sinner, showcases J. Cole's overall musicality, pairing his ability as a lyricist with a more broadly developed production palette.
  14. Jul 15, 2013
    70
    He’s certainly impressed with his flow, delivery and production, and while he hasn’t released the next golden hip hop album he’s coming close.
  15. Jun 13, 2013
    80
    Born Sinner is a real grower, one that in many ways completely exceeds expectations and demands your attention.
  16. Jun 18, 2013
    70
    His riffs on racism, homophobia and misogyny have more lyrical cunning than insight. But when it comes to twisting himself into Kanye-size pretzels of career-oriented real talk, he's a champ.
  17. Jun 14, 2013
    80
    Born Sinner doesn't match the cohesive satisfactions of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, though it boasts better writing.
  18. Jun 20, 2013
    60
    Cole should be fired up to make his own Illmatic, his own Reasonable Doubt, or his own College Dropout. But here he seems stuck somewhere between starstruck and envious, fawning over his idols instead of trying to take their crowns.
  19. Jun 24, 2013
    70
    With the exception of “Crooked Smile” and “Let Nas Down,” the last five songs hold over the album, but don’t add value to the overall project.
  20. Jul 9, 2013
    40
    There are some solid points buried deep down in the wreckage of Cole’s seven-bar pileup, but you’ll have to sift through a great, big, ambivalent pile of solecisms in order to get to them. As it turns out, that holds true for the vast majority of Born Sinner.
  21. Jun 19, 2013
    60
    While BS may not exhibit the growth sonically or conceptually that fans may have anticipated after hearing Cole’s early work, he remains too gifted lyrically, too keen of a storyteller, and too emotionally open for his sophomore LP to be anything less than impressive, but not overly so.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 251 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 79 out of 86
  2. Negative: 5 out of 86
  1. Jun 17, 2013
    10
    Amazing album. Huge step up from his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, production and lyric wise. Best HIP HOP album dropping on June 18th. Support the man! Full Review »
  2. N10
    Jun 18, 2013
    10
    I don't really have much too write about this album. Cause clearly people hate on Cole's beautiful and darker sophmore project just for the sake of Kanye West's Yeezus. Sad to see how people instantly throw words around before they even heared it. If so I would gladly listen to your opinions. In my opinion when it comes to the lyrics, Born Sinner is the winner of the two by far, on Yeezus it felt kinda lazy with it but he sure had his moments at times. Not Ye's best tough. Production wise Yeezus has more flavour to it, more harder bass and production. Either you love the production of Yeezus or you simply dislike it. I'm a huge Kanye fan but to me the lyrics didn't to me or the production really well. Yeezus is good, great in it's first five tracks. And Black Skinhead is so far one of the year's best with New Slaves. Born Sinner.. too me, is fantastic. He's rhymes are really well put-together and he's flow switches up good and dosen't get boring. 18th June is a great day in Hip Hop. Let's welcome "the newer" faces, if J. Cole's albums are as good as this one at least then he sure is going to do ous well in the future. Full Review »
  3. Jun 18, 2013
    8
    J Cole's new album is a very mellow one. I thought it would be boring, but this is a mellow album done right! Lyrically, Born Sinner is even better than Yeezus and Watching Tv With the Sound Off, but for the production Yeezus AND Watching Tv were better.

    Production: 7/10
    Lyrics: 9/10
    Final: 8/10
    Full Review »