Born Sinner - J. Cole
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 254 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 51 out of 254

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  1. Jun 17, 2013
    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!
  2. N10
    Jun 18, 2013
    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. Expand
  3. Jun 18, 2013
    This album is a giant step up from Coleworld and the theme of heaven & hell comes across great. Standouts on the album are 'forbidden fruit' 'she knows' and 'villuminati'
  4. Jun 18, 2013
    This is a great album, dope lyrics and production with a cohesive concept behind the whole project. What I'm trying to figure out is how people on here are saying this is a solid album but didn't live up to the hype then rate it a 0/10.... TFOH. Dont let the Kanye stans turn you away, this album is worth buying especially with the type of music being released these days.
  5. Jun 18, 2013
    Great solid album. J.Cole has shown great production skills and has even emerged to be one of the best contenders of the rap game lyrically too. This is the album that J.Cole should be making and this gives Yeezus stiff competition. There is not one bad song on the entire album and even the deluxe edition songs are great.
  6. Jun 17, 2013
    Cole rally came strong on this album. The album starts off with absolute fire with Villuminati the way Cole makes fun of the whole concept is brilliant. Things just get better -Power Trip is amazing, She Knows is good, Let Nas Down, Crooked Smile & Mo Money are all very good. The only song I don't really care for is Chaining Day...just not much to it. The Deluxe edition has two amazing songs the previously released Miss America and NY Times (ft. 50 cent). If you're going to buy an album this week, this is the one to get. ColeWorld Expand
  7. Jun 17, 2013
    Cole goes IN and his production game is on point, best album i've heard in quite a while, every song blends production, flow, and lyrics so perfectly it's hard to think of any way to make this album better
  8. Jun 17, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This album shows J. Cole's growth as a producer, and storyteller, and with that you have Born Sinner. The overall dark tone of production and lyrics in the first half of the album, "She Knows" is the only song that isn't really a highlight of the first half, but is still a fairly enjoyable song at that. The darkness in the first half is offset by the lighter second half, starting with the "Where's Jermaine" skit that leads into the long awaited Kendrick Lamar collaboration "Forbidden Fruit", which is a very high set highlight of the album, I could see this as the third single. "Chaining Day" sounds like a song that was ultimately left off of "The 20/20 Experience", which isn't necessarily a bad thing given it gives vibes of Timbaland production, with mellow lyrics. Then you have Crooked Smile, the uplifting collaboration with TLC. This song should do very well on the billboard charts, it has all of the tools to do so. "Let Nas Down" is a highlight all in itself. Cole describes how he let his childhood idol down by "selling out" and making "Workout". The title track "Born Sinner" ends the album on a high note, only to introduce you back to "Villuminati" with it's Choir ending that goes right into the introduction of the album. The album overall to me is a strong 8- light 9, which is a complete step of from the mess that was "Cole World: The Sideline Story". Expand
  9. Jun 17, 2013
    Very good album from Cole here and certainly a LARGE step up from his debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story, which was more of a 6 or 7 out of 10. This, however, is more like his mixtapes, which is exactly what fans like myself wanted. Tons of emphasis on the lyrics and Cole certainly went hard here with less corny lines than on Cole World. The main criticism I've heard of the album is the production, but I tell ya, I'm not really seeing it. The production wasn't extraordinary, but it was far from being bad enough to take away from the album at all. Not as good as Yeezus, but very good in its own right. Expand
  10. Jun 17, 2013
    Production was topnotch. Storytelling was incredible. Cole's flow and bars were very impressive. Nice to have an album you can play through the end and not want to skip songs. major improvement from Cole World. Cole really delivers.
  11. VOL
    Jun 17, 2013
    Cole's honesty and master storytelling throughout Born Sinner is something worthy of praise in itself. Each song serves it's purpose in allowing you into his world as he struggles to navigate through a corrupt society in hopes of finding himself.

    LAnd of the Snakes, Runaway, Rich N*ggaz, Forbidden Fruit, Crooked Smile, Let Nas Down and the album's title track are the milestones of this

    In the end Cole revels in the realization that self-fulfillment trumps any material gain, creating a truly inspirational tale. By the album's end Cole's triumph will resonate with any reader that has ever had to do any soul searching.
  12. Jun 18, 2013
    A vast improvement from his inconsistent, lukewarm debut. Cole starts off with vengeance with a spit-fire flow on Villuminati. The album covers the topics of lust, corruption, temptation, how deceitful/shady people can be, and staying true to yourself with new found fame and money. The production is definitely top notch throughout the album.
  13. Jun 18, 2013
    Album is incredible. Not one bad song on it and the production is out of this world. Only downside is that the lyrics aren't up to par with previous projects however, some lyrics made me rewind and think OH
  14. Jun 18, 2013
    Great album, incredible. Cole once again delivered with stories, concepts and incredible production which is his best to date. To fully appreciate and understand the album you gotta listen from start to finish to feel the duality of it, darkness to hapiness. Don't know if it will win in sales against Ye, but surely in quality THE BEST ALBUM THAT CAME OUT ON June 18th, and possibly this year. If you want that real, you gonna cop this. Support the real music!!! Expand
  15. Jun 18, 2013
    JCN, stand up!

    Hug improvement from his first album. Upgraded flow, production and hooks. Cole World!

  16. Jun 18, 2013
    Born Sinner is a solid album overall, plenty of replay value, especially from tracks that don't necessarily stand out. I've never heard anything like 'Let Nas Down' before, and it's testament to Cole's sincerity, most rappers won't open themselfs up like that. It's the one track that really blew my mind on BS.
  17. Jun 18, 2013
    This is the best album of the year. The production is good and the lyricism is awesome. This is what a hip hop album should sound like. good job cole.
  18. Jun 17, 2013
    Great album. Really surprised me of how much Cole has evolved in such little time, he crafted this album almost perfectly. It's good to hear and album with more than just one or two good songs, minimum fillers makes a big difference.
  19. Jun 17, 2013
    This album is a big step forward from cole world. What I appreciate about cole is that he puts an equal or even more emphasis on producing his own songs. And he has turned out to be a damn good producer. His bars and rhymes also deserve equal acclaim. Best tracks; Rich N***z, She Knows, Power Trip, Let Nas Down
  20. Jun 17, 2013
    A great album in which you see a huge step forward in production. J. Cole is a great artist and this improvement in his production is what makes Born Sinner so great.
  21. Jun 18, 2013
    Born Sinner is Amazing. Much better than Yeezus or mac millers album. Cole>Kanye>Mac Miller. Also Cole Haters and Kanye Stans suck. Lol. Can't accept the fact Cole made a better album.
  22. Jun 18, 2013
    Best i ever heard, Cole is like a god, he shows the path in life, genius like a penius u know crazy wordplay yeaaaaa dip sip lip hahahahahahaahahahah
  23. Jun 18, 2013
    J. Cole preaches his personal life and battle between good and evil with excellent lyricism, and excellent production. Cole shows his evolution as a rapper, producer, and most importantly as an artist. This is the best rap album since good kid, m.A.A.d city, and will likely be the best album we see this year
  24. Jun 18, 2013
    J. Cole showcases growth both as a rapper and producer in his sophomore album....

    Full review of J. Cole's 'Born Sinner' here:
  25. Jun 18, 2013
    Critics do not know what make a great hip hop album. They know what SHOULD make the charts, what formula to create mainstream success, but not what touches the heart of listeners, what brings in core fans. J Cole talked about this in his album and it went straight over critic's heads. Just for the honesty and intricate storytelling and insight into his life, in a materialistic Hip Hop world we live in today, J Cole deserves a 10. Mainstream music needs more artists like this. Kendrick Lamar and J Cole are the faces of the new age of Hip Hop. Expand
  26. Jun 18, 2013
    Born Sinner Was An Absolute Testament To J.Cole's Growth, He Has Managed To Stay Himself Throughout His Mix tapes & This Album Is No Exception. He Is Relatable Yet Lyrical. It Was Worth Every Penny.
  27. Jul 1, 2013
    Amazing album by J. Cole. His production matched with his lyrical potency is amazing. So far, the best Hip Hop album of this year. Future of Hip-Hop is found in Cole
  28. Jun 18, 2013
    Great production, lyrics with substance, and a cohesive theme that runs from start to finish. Plenty of stand-out tracks like 'Let Nas Down', 'Trouble', 'She Knows', and of course both singles; 'Power Trip' and 'Crooked Smile'.
    A great album all-round.
  29. Jun 18, 2013
    King Cole, Cole World No Blanket. Need a few listens to see how great the lyrics really. Production is on point and he Definitely has grown as an artist and this album is flawless. 10/10 AOTY #newlegends
  30. Jun 18, 2013
  31. Jun 18, 2013
    Production is immaculate. Lyrics on-point as usually. Every track is there for a reason, which accounts for its cohesion. Overall, i'd say its a masterpiece.
  32. Jun 18, 2013
    Amazing album. Unlike what others say I don't think the production is boring, and Cole switches up his flow more often than not, so it was a great listen. Honestly I would give this album a 9, because I don't really like She Knows and Ain't That Some but I have to cancel out the Yeezus trolls, who are blindly giving this album negative reviews.
  33. Jun 18, 2013
    Born Sinner is a well rounded package from an artist who has fought tooth and nail to achieve his position in Rap. It’s about time someone has received what they’ve earned. INCREDIBLE body of work. Congrats to J. Cole. Album in stores now! Buy a few. Support real music.
  34. Jun 18, 2013
    This album is dope! I can definitely see where Cole is coming from, when he said this album is like a trip through hell. The first half is noticeably darker than the other half.

    Not only did J Cole improve lyrically from his debut, but his production is also much improved. Great listen. My favorite songs are Trouble, Runaway, Rich and Let Nas Down.
  35. Jun 18, 2013
    Nice album. I really don't understand why some people think J. Cole is boring, or some critics think he
    lacks charisma. J Cole did mention that it was going to be a darker album, and for me the production and lyrics are on point.

  36. Jun 18, 2013
    Didn't think he would beat his first album bet he did. The lyrics were deep, the beat was dope. Not a song on the album that you can't listen to. 21 songs for 13.99 is crazy good value.
  37. Jun 18, 2013
    Huge improvement from his debut! Though some people think all J Cole is talking about is girls, there is a deeper meaning that I was able to grasp. Besides the lyricism in Yeezus was much worse. I thought it was very cohesive, and there were no duds except maybe She Knows). 10/10.
  38. Jun 18, 2013
    Album is a HUGE step up from his debut, one would wonder where the hunger went there. Shows great improvement as a producer as well. Album is a 10/10 to me.
  39. Jun 18, 2013
    It really is an astounding from the crap that comes out of the Hip-Hop/Rap industry these days. J. Cole's first effort was very limited and he took the world by charge when his album was #1 when it released. So, it was just another mainstream rap album with a new voice behind a mic. But not with Born Sinner, JC's most anticipated sophomore albu (for me atleast). The reason why i was so hyped for this album was this rapper was given more freedom this time around, and i knew he would deliver. Now i'm not going to lie, the beats used in this album don't partically attune to the style of rap i listen to, but i know the work that was put into this album and this is J.COLES album. J.Coles RAP album. And it is definitley an album RAP needs. Maybe there is hope, for the rare occurences of good music that come sof the genre these days. 9/10 Excellent. Expand
  40. Jun 19, 2013
    This album is a lot different then his first album CWTSS he doesn't seem to try to appeal to radio. I feel like this album is more of that old J Cole. The production and substance on the album is amazing.
  41. Jun 19, 2013
    Best album ive heard all year. Good beats and lyrics. This is leaps and bounds better than yeezus. This is real hip hop not an experiment gone horribly wrong.
  42. Jun 20, 2013
    In all honesty I felt that this album was a great effort by Mr. Cole musically. Itay not be new from his earlier work, but you can't deny the measage he is spilling out. Yes, people may disagree with the productiom, but I felt it was in the right step from his earlier project. Lyrics were inspiring, while the subject matter was interesting. Good work Mr. Cole.
  43. Jun 20, 2013
    This is a big step up from his first album. This really grew on me after 5 more listens. Best songs are power trip, rich runaway, chaining day, let nas down, and born sinner.
  44. Jun 20, 2013
    Leaps and bounds better than his freshman album, Cole's sophomore offering is impressive. I honestly haven't found a single song on the album that I wouldn't listen to again. The production is off the charts, and he has grown as a rapper tremendously. The skits (especially the first one) could have been left out, but overall I have listened to the album about 10 times now and it hasn't gotten old. It's not GKMC level greatness, but it's what I will be listening to for a while. Expand
  45. rha
    Jun 22, 2013
    First album I've purchased in a long time....I smell album of the year and tons of grammys! I can't remember when I was able to listen to an album beginning to end with such flow and continuity! Cole is amazing creatively and lyrically. This album is a must have!
  46. 9mm
    Jul 4, 2013
    In a world of mediocre hip hop and similar-sounding, simple lyrics, J Cole's "Born Sinner" is a refreshing glass of spiked ice tea. He's still growing and it's apparent, but this album was clearly centered around his passion and emotions. His dark side is intriguing and makes the listener anxious for more, eager to experience his continued growth.
  47. Jul 7, 2013
    J.Cole Pours Out Everything that he wanted to deliver on Cole World Sideline Story...Lyrically J.Cole Spills Outs His Darkest Thoughts and Sincerity. Beautiful Tracks Like "Runaway" and "Rich Shows why J.Cole May have the ability to rise to the top. Personal Tracks Like "Let Nas Down" and "Born Sinner" shows that J.Cole will never lose sight of what he is and what he wants to become. This Album may not completely broadcast j.cole's ability but its brings light to what he has in store for the future. Expand
  48. Jul 10, 2013
    Yeezus>Born Sinner> Magna Carta Holy Grail. When this album came out I didn't give it must thought because even though I do like J.Cole I was not a J.Cole fan, and I am a huge fan of Kanye's music so I only paid attention to Yeezus. Even though Yeezus is a classic album that does not mean J.Cole's album is bad. After giving it a listen its actually a really good album that deserves a listen. The lyrics, subject matter, overall production, and cohesiveness of this album does not match Kanye's but this album still scores in all of those categories better than I expected. Songs like Land of the Snakes, Trouble, Let Nas Down, and Crooked Smile are the best songs on the album, but my only complaint about this album is that some of the songs seem to drag on and on and the songs after Born Sinner the title track make no sense at all. But overall this album is great and deserves a listen. Collapse
  49. Jul 11, 2013
    This will be a clasic Hip Hop album and the future of Hip Hop is looking brighter. In a world of what I call "ignorant rap" i.e. anything made by 2Chaniz it is nice to get someone who is taking their time to work on their craft and actually sit down and WRITE their lyrics down and it shows in this album that JC is true to Hip-Hop and it's culture. One of the most surprising songs on the album was "Chaining Day" There is line in that song that touches the trueness of what buying these "Chains" really means. Buy this album! Expand
  50. Jul 21, 2013
    Hey...this is also a very good album! He may truly be hip-hop's savior! I can listen to this album all the way through from beginning to end. Now that's a good album!
  51. Aug 28, 2013
    J. Cole takes a step up with Born Sinner. Leading up to it with the Truly Yours series he sets the stage for a thematically organized and poignant album that illuminates Jermaine Cole's journey in the rap industry and showcases his ability as a lyricist.
  52. Sep 21, 2013
    A solid album by J. Cole. Most people hate on him because he went up against Kanye and has outsold him to this point. In due time Born Sinner will get it's proper recognition as an important album from an important artist. The impact it had with Nas, and Cole's boldness and bravado definitely make this his most interesting and inviting album. Multiple gems on this album.
  53. Nov 12, 2013
    EVERYTHING about this album is a big and huge step up from his last album, Cole World: The Sideline Story. Lots of songs on here are really good. Be sure to buy this album if you like the songs!
  54. Nov 20, 2013
    Born Sinner is this decade's Late Registration, its themes styles and production methodology are a strikingly poetic ode to Kanye's second album. it is one of the finest rap albums of the year and will be a big contender for the Rap Album Grammy.
  55. Feb 18, 2014
    I don't understand why this is rated so low compared to other rap albums released in 2013. This is better than most of them. It has some of the best production around. The samples are absolutely fantastic. J. Cole's rapping is pretty great, accompanied by very good lyrics.

    It's actually pointless to state my favorite tracks, 'cause that'll be like writing the track listing (or more than
    half of it, anyway). But i do recommend the Deluxe Edition. It has some mesmerizing tracks in it.

    It may not be innovative or groundbreaking or anything like that; but with an album this good, it really doesn't need to be. Beautiful. Absolutely Beautiful.
  56. Mar 19, 2014
    I was not a fan of Cole's first release and I was rather skeptical going into this album. After giving it a few listens, i was addicted. This album shows what he can truly do as not just a rapper, but as a great producer. While the mainstream singles are catchy, songs such as "Runaway" and "Rich **** show his true potential. NAS comparisons galore. Enough said.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Jul 15, 2013
    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.
  2. Jul 9, 2013
    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.
  3. 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.