Today in Hip-Hop: J. Cole Drops ‘Born Sinner’ Album
On this day, June 18, in hip-hop history...
Released nearly two years after Cole World: A Sideline Story, Born Sinner began its promotional cycle with young Jermaine’s Miguel-assisted hit single, “Power Trip.” With a memorable two-part hook and quotable bars from Cole, the track quickly became a platinum-selling one
While Born Sinner was jumpstarted by his commercial-leaning lead single, “Power Trip,” the then-28-year-old seemingly lamented his forays into pop music on “Let Nas Down.” On the track, he spits about dealing with rumors his Cole World single, “Work Out,” had disappointed the Queensbridge legend.
Getting to the specifics of "Let Nas Down," the cut finds Cole claiming that Jay-Z, who had signed him to his Roc Nation label in 2009, had been pressuring him to release a radio-friendly single. That pressure led to the Paul Abdul-interpolating "Work Out," and apparently, Nas' disappointment.
"And I was striking out for months, ninth inning, feeling fear/Jeter under pressure, made the biggest hit of my career/But at first, that wasn't clear, niggas had no idea/Dion called me when it dropped, sounded sad but sincere/Told me Nas heard your single and he hate that shit/Said, 'You the one, yo, why you make that shit?'" Cole spits on the track.
A short time later, NYC legend offered a response to Cole by serving up a "Let Nas Down" remix by the name of "Made Nas Proud." On the track, Esco explains his stance on Cole's pop records while giving him the ultimate cosign.
"If I don't sell another record, I'll just steady rock/While you was writing down my rhymes I was just tryna show you/That if you say what's on ya mind, you can stand the test of time/Now I'm playing Born Sinner loud, saw you live, rock the crowd/Like wow, you made your nigga Nas proud," Mr. Jones spits on the track.
While Born Sinner, won't be remembered as Cole's best album, it was definitely a solid entry into the catalog of an emerging legend. Upon its release, Born Sinner moved 297,000 units in its first week while landing at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Yeezus, which is a polarizing LP by his then-idol Kanye West, finished one spot ahead at No. 1.
Born Sinner included features from Kendrick Lamar and TLC. Cole has gone featureless on every album since.
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