Born Sinner - J. Cole
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 253 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 51 out of 253

Review this album

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  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!
  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. Expand
  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
  4. Jun 17, 2013
    7
    Had huge hopes for this Cd. So many mixtapes and features on tracks and killed it. However, maybe I built it up in my head a bit cuz it wasn't one of my favorites this year. Seems to me most of his songs had similair references and topics. It almost created a "mood" which wasn't something I'd play to bob my head to feel it. I found myself listening to the lyrics-which is good. But not when the same things come up. Expand
  5. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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'
  6. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  7. Jun 18, 2013
    9
    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.
  8. Jun 17, 2013
    10
    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
  9. Jun 19, 2013
    0
    The same old music from J Cole. The same old. Nothing new here folks. Sorry but this album is trashy. It seems like the songs are left over from the sideline story.........next time maybe?
  10. Jun 17, 2013
    10
    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
  11. Jun 17, 2013
    9
    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
  12. Jun 17, 2013
    9
    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
  13. Jun 17, 2013
    10
    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.
  14. VOL
    Jun 17, 2013
    10
    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
    album.

    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.
    Expand
  15. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  16. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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
  17. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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
  18. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    JCN, stand up!

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

    POSTMUSTBE150CHARACTERSBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH
  19. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  20. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  21. Jun 23, 2013
    7
    I'm as big of a J. Cole fan as there is and after a few listens to this album I can't help but feel that some of the magic was lost from the original/past mix tapes. He seems to be in a dark place right now and while in some songs it translated well, others it didn't. Listen to this if you enjoy real hip-hop because there are some classics on this album you don't want to miss.
  22. Jun 17, 2013
    9
    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.
  23. Jun 17, 2013
    10
    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
  24. Jun 17, 2013
    9
    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.
  25. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  26. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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
  27. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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
  28. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    J. Cole showcases growth both as a rapper and producer in his sophomore album....

    Full review of J. Cole's 'Born Sinner' here: http://highbrowhiphop.com/j-coles-born-sinner-review/
  29. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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
  30. Jun 18, 2013
    8
    This album could easily become 2013's best Hip-Hop album but there's more to come. This album is much more improved if compared to his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story. The album's title was inspired by a verse in The Notorious B.I.G's song ''Juicy'', the verse is ''Born Sinner, Opposite of Winner''. The song is featured as a sample in the first track on the album ''Villuminati'', which is one of the best tracks in the album. There is some 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G in the album as well as some Jay-Z inspiration. The album had only 1 track I really disliked. The rest are amazing and some are good. Although I wish the album had some more collaborations with other rappers. J.Cole produced all of the songs in the album and had people co-produce in 2 tracks. The production is good in the album. But overall I felt some tracks like ''Chaining Day'' had not so good production which made the song sound not as good as it could have been. This album is easily better than Kanye West's Yeezus.

    OVERALL: The album is AMAZING. I think J.Cole really took his time making this album and made some big lyricism and some production improvements. This album is definitely worth the price. I would highly recommend picking up the Deluxe Version as it makes the album even better for $13,99 on iTunes or you can go pick up physical copy in stores.
    Collapse
  31. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  32. Jun 19, 2013
    8
    he actually stepped up his production his lyrics are good but his flow is similar in all songs...........................................................
  33. Jun 22, 2013
    7
    J.Coles sophomore album is ambitious and seeks to be something great, and on some songs it shows. Others on the other hand come up short and feels week. The album is honest, and I like that. But the subject matter can get repetitive. Rapping about "being real" gets old after a while. Also having songs called "No Money" and "Rich on the same album is strange. On No Money he says"Mo money, blow money, show money, party money, side ho money, dope money..." Yeah you get the idea, that line goes on for a while. But on "Rich he says,"I hate rich goddammit cause i aint never had a lot dammit". If on this album if he's trying to be real and stay true to the fans, why is he making songs that counter act each other on the same project. I'm not saying their bad songs, but their not helping the his persona of "being real". Another problem I have with this project is about how much he focus's on his idols, hell he made a whole song about he disappointed Nas. He talks about he's going to be a legend, but I don't think he can be if all he raps about is how good 2pac and Nas are. On a positive note the production is on point. In "Trouble" the choir bring a brilliant sound to the song that sounds similar to "Sunrise" by Childish Gambino. Probably my favorite song on the album is "New York Times". One of the lyrically best on the album and the catchiest hook. J.Cole at the end of the day is a lyricist, and a good one at that. But I think he needs to widen his subject matter and move on from praising his idols. If your already a fan you'll probably love this album, but new listeners might find it more to be just average.

    Favorite Tracks: Villuminati, Trouble, New York Times.
    Least Favorite: Forbidden Fruit, Miss America, Born Sinner.
    Expand
  34. Jun 24, 2013
    2
    J. Cole, while a rapper with skills, doesn't display them. He's a very boring and tedious rapper. People say he's "real" when I've heard the same ole stuff from other rappers. I don't buy into his hype. Its ridiculous. Born Sinner backs my point. Very stale album, production is okay, but not the best.
  35. Jul 1, 2013
    9
    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
  36. Jul 6, 2013
    7
    Overall, a solid album. Songs like "Rich nigg*z" & "Let Nas Down" give it that raw appeal. Even singles like "Power Trip" & "Crooked Smile" push it to the limit. But when hearing his first mixtape, "Warm Up", you can't help but think he has more potential than this. Although I have to admit, he matured well from his debut.
  37. Jun 17, 2013
    7
    An impressive and enjoyable sophomore effort. A little one dimensional in terms of its subject matter- but then look at the genre as a whole. Doubtless a step up from his debut album, which was considered by many to be a disappointment. Contrarily, 'Born Sinner' showcases not only his ability on the microphone but his production, which was solid throughout. Looking forward to seeing more from J Cole in the future. Expand
  38. Jun 17, 2013
    6
    Dope, but repetitive album. J Cole hasn't progressed much as an artist or stepped out of his comfort zone which is a bit disappointing, but still solid. The lack of features and length make this album a little boring, for some reason I just can't get into it. It seems that with all the other big Hip-Hop releases coming out that are really pushing boundaries, this album may be forgotten quite quickly. Still Expand
  39. Jun 17, 2013
    8
    “It’s the feeling in the air you bout to drop a real classic
    He said Cole, “A lil’ birdy told me on the low you got an Illmatic”
    Nobody touching Nas it’s more like Villematic” Villematic (Friday Night Lights)
    It’s entirely too early to determine what the status of this album will be in the years to come, although we do live in a generation that gives the title of classic to just about
    every album 30 minutes after downloading a leak, but for what it’s worth, the anticipation, the hype, and the build up for J.Cole’s 2nd album is what a lot of people were looking forward to for quite some time. I think it’s because Sideline Story was such a disappointment for many that the expectations were either: high, low, or simply in the happy medium. I know that I was prepared for this album because of the first single that he put out, his feature verses (Pray by The Game also featuring JMSN is the notable one), and his growing strength in producing is what had me enticed as to what we’ll hear. Also, the fact that he moved up release date to compete with Kanye West shows that he has the confidence in his music that he can go toe to toe with the great ones. He has a quote later on in the album that says: “long live the idols, may they never be your rivals” and Kanye West is definitely idolized by many, so why not share the same spotlight with one of the greats? It would make sense to me.
    The title of the album Born Sinner is a reflection of the fact that when you’re born, you’re already surrounded by the world’s wrongs which become to manifest around you. A line that I’m thinking of right now is Kendrick Lamar’s from Ab-Soul’s Outro on Section.80:
    “you ever see a newborn baby kill a grown man? That’s an analogy for how the world makes me react. My innocence’s been dead”
    The picture of the baby with Deviled horns symbolizes that we’re unknown to the fact that we essentially sin from Day 1, but it’s not until we grow and receive an understanding of just what it is that’s so sinful. Religion, spirituality; whatever you believe in, they’ve been common topics throughout Hip Hop as of recent that have been constantly spoken upon, and it’s something that a lot of young people can relate to (which is primarily his target audience) because like myself, I’m not very religious, and I do question a lot of things that I’ve been exposed to when it comes to having a belief in a higher power or the Bible itself. Everything comes down the Kanye’s line in Gorgeous, which I’m sure I’ve regurgitated through several of my reviews, but it works here:
    “Is Hip Hop just a euphemism for a new religion?”

    Keep Reading http://dopedrops.com/2013/06/j-cole-born-sinner-review/
    Expand
  40. Jun 17, 2013
    6
    Only really a few good songs on this album that I would come back to. The production of this sounds as if a church congregation got together to make a rap album. Although I'm sure that is what J. Cole was going for, it just came off as bland to me.
  41. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  42. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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
  43. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    JCN IN DIS BISH
    KTT SOME FAKKETS
    BORN SINNER, BEST ALBUM ON JUNE 18th
    YEEBUS IS TRASH
    COLE OUT SELLING ALL YA'LL FAVORITE ARTIST
    :ib:
    :ib:
    :ib:
    :ib:
    :ib:
  44. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  45. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  46. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  47. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  48. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.

    EVERYONE SUPPORT J COLE BY BUYING HIS ALBUM!! LETS TRY TO HELP HIM OUTSELL YEEZUS (Another great album by the way)!
  49. Jun 18, 2013
    7
    It is not a bad album. It is definitively better than its predecessor. But J. Cole is missing something what makes the other rappers special. He sounds like a normal person and even though normal person can be a great rapper (see Big K.R.I.T.), J. Cole isn't that case. The album is too long with too few themes but that doesn'tmake it boring. Just average with really impressive production. J. Cole improved and there remains still room for another improving. And Im looking forward to it. Expand
  50. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  51. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  52. Jun 18, 2013
    10
    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.
  53. Jun 18, 2013
    9
    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
  54. Jun 19, 2013
    10
    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.
  55. Jun 19, 2013
    10
    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.
  56. Jun 19, 2013
    8
    Listened to the album back to front decent album highlights are land of the snakes rich runaway ant that some interlude cooked smile and sparks will fly
  57. Jun 20, 2013
    10
    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.
  58. Jun 20, 2013
    10
    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.
  59. Jun 20, 2013
    9
    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
  60. Jun 21, 2013
    8
    Though the album doesn't compare to classics like "The Warm Up" or "Friday Night Lights," "Born Sinner" is a solid step up from "Cole World: The Sideline Story" both lyrically and production-wise. While the album can lull at times, the overall lyricism is on-point, making "Born Sinner" a worthwhile, enjoyable listen.
  61. Jun 21, 2013
    7
    Solid album, a few issues.

    Rhyme-wise... really feeling it. His lyrics actually have substance, story, something going on besides just words that rhyme or forcing words to rhyme that don't. Some tracks have some pretty whack lyrics and chorus (i.e. Hate Rich People God D#mmit) that just sounds very amateur.

    The last handful of tracks feel like his real album (not in a good way).
    What I mean, you can tell the underproduced stuff towards the end was his real stuff before producers dropped cash into him. Some cutting room floor these songs should have hit.

    Some tracks have some R&B soul to them on the level of Drake, and that's a style that's going to fade real quick. Sometimes Cole has the attitude and voice emulation of Kanye and some rhymes that are purposefully bitten sounds mixtape worthy only (i.e. Busta Rhymes bite).

    The song with Kendrick Lamar is solid, mostly you just want to hear more Kendrick. Cole has lyrics but how delivers them seem lacking attitude or soul, again as exhibited by hearing Kendrick on the track you can see what I mean.

    Cole has got the rhyme power maybe next time we can hear something a little more dirty and less radio friendly.
    Expand
  62. rha
    Jun 22, 2013
    10
    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!
  63. Jun 23, 2013
    8
    This album is a stellar example of a piece of art being ignored on its own merit because of what it is placed next to in the gallery. I am of course referring to the massive comparison battle it is having with Kanye West's album Yeezus. While I understand it is something that Cole asked for by moving up his release date, I think this album needs to be looked at on its own and analyzed without people circlejerking about which artist is better. The most important point I can make before going into my actual review is that IT ISN'T A BAD THING that Cole doesn't go on some experimental journey with this album. It's his second album, and he still has yet to prove himself to be an exceptional talent. He is sticking to what he knows, polishing it, and releasing what he hopes will provide the proof that he deserves more attention.

    Born Sinner is a vastly intriguing album, with a sonic pallet that doesn't range as far as some hip hop albums, but not to its disadvantage. Cole understand what he can do, he understand what he should be doing, and he pulls it off with an almost perfect touch.

    Firstly, the production. All across the album, Cole shows his impressive musicianship with almost entirely self produced tracks. From the ungodly catchy Power Trip, to the soulful Trouble, to the harsh drive of She Knows, and the beautiful accumulation in the album's title track, Cole shows a mastery that is almost unheard of in a sophomore album. He weaves instruments together in ways that aren't too jarring or experimental, but he also keeps the sonic waves changing directions and keeps everything from sounding in any way repetitive. I could listen to this album with a complete lack of lyrics and be thoroughly pleased by the experience.

    Lyricism is where Cole really shines though, and this album is no different from his past works. He has a wit that never quits and he knows how to flow over a beat like almost no other. As always he also tries to keep his focus on the way his world exists. He lets loose on his struggles with staying faithful, his love of materialism, his hate of materialism, his embarrassments, and he does it all in style. He tries to paint the climate of his mind across our eardrums, and he comes out looking like what he is, a still growing young entertainer, who is unsure how to handle life. The name of the album says it all, Cole is a Born Sinner, and he is struggling to find a way to control all of his desires and to learn from his mistakes.

    All in all, I think this is an album that must be listened to very attentively over a multitude of days. It takes time to notice its nuances and clever structure. The only thing I have to say against it is that Cole still hasn't found his story. He's mastered how he's going to tell it, he just needs an inspiration.

    Lyricism: 9.5/10
    Production: 9.5/10
    Content: 9/10
    General Cohesion: 8/10
    Expand
  64. Jun 24, 2013
    7
    It's a good album, it has it's highs and lows. Most tracks seem to be well thought out and produced well, I do have to say that the top songs we're Power Trip, Born Sinner and Miss America. Is it worth it buying it? Yea, go buy it, it's an album that you will enjoy.
  65. Jun 24, 2013
    7
    Quality release from a quality artist. I am a little disappointed due to my super high expectations but overall I thought this project was good. His production is definitely evolved but I still prefer The Come Up, The Warm Up, & Friday Night Lights over his studio releases.
  66. 9mm
    Jul 4, 2013
    9
    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.
  67. Jul 7, 2013
    9
    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
  68. Jul 10, 2013
    9
    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. Expand
  69. Jul 11, 2013
    10
    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
  70. Jul 12, 2013
    4
    Even at he's worst (which Born Sinner is), J Cole is better than 90 percent of rappers out there, but after this album has defiantly took him out of the top 5; terrible work, especially for talent as great as Cole.
  71. Jul 15, 2013
    8
    This is one of my favorite albums so far in 2013. Some of the beats where wack, but lyrics just made up for that. I have to say this is a big step up from Cole World.
  72. Jul 21, 2013
    9
    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!
  73. Jul 22, 2013
    7
    In this album, J. Cole demonstrates his skill as a rapper and producer. Despite Born Sinner is a respectable album, this album is a step backwards compared to Cole World: The Sideline Story.
  74. Jul 24, 2013
    7
    Don't get me wrong, J. Cole's sophomore album "Born Sinner" isn't a bad effort by any means, it just isn't quite enough. Throughout, both the lyricism and production on this LP seem to fall just a bit too flat. And yet, it really is difficult for me to express any particular flaw in the album. The beats are groovy, the lyrics are clever, and the hooks are catchy. But it just isn't quite there. Overall, it seems like Cole didn't try all that hard. There are a few tracks on the LP that stand out in both lyrical content and production, but the rest seem to be ever so slightly uninspired.

    Unfortunately for Cole, "Born Sinner" has been compared side by side with Kanye's new LP "Yeezus" since its initial release. But fans of J. Cole have nothing to worry about, 'Born Sinner' is on every level superior to Kanye and Mac Miller's new albums. Overall, I find myself with very little to say about this album. It's just... ok. If anything the thematic substance is a bit weak, but that is an adjective I could use for practically every characteristic of the album. A decent 7/10 for this album might be generous, but for some reason I can't really see myself scoring it any lower. I've found myself going back to it several times since it came out, and yet I don't love it, so I feel a 7/10 is adequate.

    STANDOUT TRACKS:
    'Born Sinner'
    'Let Nas Down' (hands down best track on the album)
    'Villuminati'
    Expand
  75. Jul 28, 2013
    5
    J. Cole is a talented emcee. Unfortunately, Born Sinner isn't up to his standard. Gifted with a unique style, Cole doesn't need to copy any rapper. At times Sinner sounds like Take Care... but r&b/rap sound is better left to Drake. Cole struggles with this mellow sound, and doesn't have a natural singing voice. The times he is best on Born Sinner is when he is eating up beats and making bangers. This sound is almost nowhere to be found, and overall the album suffers because of it. I'm convinced that J. Cole has longevity in this game, but efforts like Born Sinner wont solidify him. Overall, Cole's second album lacks the energy of his first, has repetitive, boring production, and is below the par he set with Cole World. Expand
  76. Aug 28, 2013
    10
    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.
  77. Sep 21, 2013
    10
    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.
  78. Nov 12, 2013
    9
    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!
  79. Nov 20, 2013
    9
    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.
  80. Dec 18, 2013
    7
    Definitely an excellent album and it shows real character growth from the first album. The sound is more cohesive and the production on this one is top notch. Where the first album felt a little bit to label driven this album seems like it's Jermaine own product. The things I didn't like about this album were his tendency to be a bit too humble and not step in and be aggressive enough like he does on the first track. And although I like 'chaining day' I didn't feel like it should have been on this album unless it was a bonus track. It just didn't feel right in the tone this album was setting. Certainly a must listen for any cole fan, but I really feel he can do better and I hope this is a stepping stone for an even greater album Expand
  81. Jan 10, 2014
    6
    Born Sinner reminded me of Kanye West's debut album The College Dropout. The production was very soulful and it worked in his favour. His album also tells a story we want to listen to which is evident in Crooked Smile, Let Nas Down and Chaining Day. However, I felt like there were a little too many fillers on the album that made the album seem repetitive. Nonetheless, it was an overall success.
  82. Jan 16, 2014
    8
    Great step up, my favorite track is Let Nas Down. He does a great job with his storytelling, proves he is Jay's secret weapon at the Roc. I liked it just as much as Yeezus
  83. Feb 10, 2014
    8
    Born Sinner is a step up from J. Cole's debut album. He reminds me strongly of Nas in this album. The lyrics are impressive, but a lot of the album sounded the same and the message of the album was pretty stale. He didn't push the envelope when it came to taking on relevant, socially conscious topics. Cole does, however, sound more confident than in Cole World: The Sideline Story. His mic presence is starting to take shape. It's great that he clearly takes cues from Kanye, Nas, and sometimes Jay Z, but if Cole wants to cement himself as a big figure in hip-hop he needs to go off in his own direction and do his own thing. Cole has the talent to be a legend, but I'm not sure if he's ever going to harness it properly. Overall though, Born Sinner's lyrics and flow makes me give it an 8. Even at his worst, Cole is better than most rappers in the game. ~ 7.9/10

    Best track: "Let Nas Down" -- The storytelling of Cole on this song is incredible. Also, I love the use of a saxophone in the background.

    Other notable tracks: "Trouble", "Rich **** "Forbidden Fruit", "Miss America" & "New York Times"
    Expand
  84. Feb 18, 2014
    9
    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.
    Expand
  85. Mar 19, 2014
    9
    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.
  86. Apr 25, 2014
    8
    Very solid follow up to Cole World: The Sideline Story, but still not on the level of his mixtapes. The album flows very well lyrically and musically since Cole handles both areas by himself. "Villuminati" is a fantastic intro, and "Power Trip" is one of my favorite radio singles in a long while. Born Sinner has solid replay value, but I really have to be in a certain mood to want to listen to it. I also don't feel like it has a track as good as "Lost Ones", "Farewell", "Losing My Balance", etc. highlighting the album. I'm really hoping mixtape Cole reappears with his next album as he branches out to more producers and artists and their sounds and ideas. Expand
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. 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.
  2. 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.
  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.