If dividing opinions were an Olympic event, J. Cole would be a gold medalist. On his sophomore effort Born Sinner, the North Carolina-born artist has done an impressive job at pulling in a proportionate mix of praise and weariness.
Still, it seems like no one is fully prepared to honor Jay-Z's protégé as the heir to hip-hop royalty. Compliments on Cole’s development since Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011) often came with afterthoughts, as indecisive reviewers subtly tried to cover their tracks.
Others took bolder stances, but wound up on opposite sides of the fence from their critical counterparts.
“J. Cole, who produces in addition to rapping, knows what it takes to stay relevant in the ever-changing game of hip-hop. It’s more about showing people that he can do it, and he can.” — Potholes in My Blog
“It feels like Cole is seasoned enough to complain about the woes of stardom while still bragging a little bit about the finer side of it.” — Idolator
“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.” — Entertainment Weekly
“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.” – HipHop DX
It may not be as groundbreaking as Kanye’s Yeezus, but Born Sinner earns a solid 7.1 rating. The album is now available wherever music is sold.
Stereotude uses a standardized equation for calculating ratings in order to present an accurate depiction of each release’s overall critical response. Reviews are gathered and averaged from reputable, reliable and righteous sources that we depend on, including outlets covering specific genres. Our goal is to create a consistent, fair scale by which all new music can be judged.