J.Cole doesn’t walk in the room like he’s a star. The way he moves you can tell he has an affinity for struggle. The struggle keeps him grounded in the southern soil of North Carolina. And although he’s overcome much of what plagued his upbringing, he never wants to forget it. The I’m-still-Jermaine-with-the-chipped-tooth humbleness is what makes it impossible for people to not want him to win.
Cole moves the people–not Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. type movement–more like a swelling crowd standing under dripping umbrellas waiting to enter NYC’s SVA Theatre for the first listen of Born Sinner. Finding an empty seat in the quiet listening session would’ve been like finding Waldo. The compelling narrative he told detailing the back story for “Let Nas Down” also gave context to the oft bluesy moments of the album he describes as him “going through hell trying to get to heaven, going through depression trying to make it to happiness.”
Nas was vocally disappointed with “Work Out,” the lead single from Cole’s No. 1 debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. “Don’t he know he the one,” Nas told No I.D. according to J.Cole’s story. But that was two years prior; and disappointment is what Born Sinner is not. Cole’s introspection on stepping out on his girlfriend, his envy of folks born with a silver spoon and his own spending on gold chains on wax makes for a mostly soulful album. Even with it’s fan relatability, Born Sinner is for Cole–the person and the artist.
If you think he’s in the Illuminati he thinks you’re stupid.
“These next three bars is dedicated to the retards/keep on asking me about the Illuminati/Is you stupid n*gga?/Young black millionaire/Old white billionaires, I’m sure they could do without me.”
“Land Of The Snakes”
He feels really, really bad about the chick he smashed in college then never called again, who he ran into later in life in Beverly Hills. Hey girl, you banged J.Cole. Silver lining?
“I boned her in my dorm room and kicked her out of it/And I never called back/How thoughtful-less/Now I’m standing in the street trying to politic with her/And in her mind she calling me a misogynist n*gga.
Cole owes somebody $20 dollars because he’s fallen victim to wifin’ in the club.
“She on a power trip, she got me where she want a n*gga/Wifin’ in the club, man my homies’ gon’ disown a n*gga/Like, “give me 20 dolla, dolla”/As* stupid, how you get to college, college/I’m in your city and/I’m wonderin’ if you’re home now/Went and found a man, but I’m hopin’ you alone now/Can’t help but feelin’ like I dropped the ball, cliche/I used to pop up on you at the mall each day/Now typically I kick game like East Bay/But you got a nigga freeze-framed yelling please play.”
How he stay faithful in a room full of h*s. Good question, Ye. J.Cole’s had the same girlfriend since his freshman year in college. With fame comes access to a different crop of women that he hasn’t always resisted.
“And you don’t want to let her down/But you too young for the settle down…And she ride or die/like Eve and ‘em/Make home cooked meal every eve-ning/And even in your lowest days when you’re no longer Superman/At least you know you got Lois Lane/But you just run away, run away.”
He wouldn’t be mad if his step-dad died in a plane crash.
“I ain’t bad as that n*gga/Plus dog, I’m a grown man now/I ain’t mad at that n*gga/But if a plane crashed /And it only killed his lame as*/I’ll be glad it’s that n*gga, n*gga.”
Dude. DUDE! Kendrick Lamar is singing the chorus. Oh yeah, he’s got a middle finger for your magazine.
“How many records do a nigga gotta sell/Just to get the cover of a XXL/Or Fader/F*ck ya magazine hater/When I say I’m the greatest I ain’t talking about later.
Cole ain’t getting his tooth fixed.
“They tell me I should fix my grill cause I got money now/I ain’t gon’ sit around and front like I ain’t thought about it/A perfect smile is more appealing but it’s funny how/My shit is crooked look at how far I done got without it/I keep my twisted grill, just to show them kids it’s real.”
“Let Nas Down”
His idol critiquing “Work Out” made him very defensive.
I can’t believe I let Nas down/Damn, my heart sunk to my stomach, I can’t believe I let Nas down/I got defensive on the phone, resentment was in my tone, f*ck it/I couldn’t help but think that maybe I had made a mistake/I mean, you made “You Owe Me” dog, I thought that you could relate.”
“I got a life in my grip, she holding tight to my wrist/She screaming: “Don’t let me slip”/She see the tears in my eyes, I see the fear on her lips/True when I told you: “You the only reason why I don’t flip and go insane”/My roof in the pouring rain/You knew me before the fame, don’t lose me the more I change, no/Just grow with me, go broke you go broke with me/I smoke you gon’ smoke with me/Woman’s curse since birth, man lead her to the hearse/I go Bobby you go with me damn/Listen here, I’ll tell you my biggest fears/You the only one who knows ‘em/Don’t you ever go expose ‘em.”