Sunday 24 September 2017

Jay-Z's protégé should make Kanye nervous

Talent: Jermaine Cole is an introspective and intelligent writer.
Talent: Jermaine Cole is an introspective and intelligent writer.
J Cole, Born Sinner.
John Meagher

John Meagher

Album Review: J Cole, Born Sinner (RCA) 3 STARS

With the brouhaha surrounding Kanye West's latest opus last week, it would have been easy to miss out on this second album from Jay-Z protégé and business studies graduate Jermaine Cole.

Born Sinner may be a bloated, over-long album weighing in at 21 tracks, but there are several songs here to suggest that West should be keeping an eye on Cole.

Villuminati is an arresting opener, replete with a lavish, atmospheric, nocturnal backdrop and finds the rapper ruminating on loyalty and all-costs ambition.

There's also a line in the song in which he appears to be either having a go at Beyoncé or coping onto her, which should make things interesting next time he's in a room with her husband, Jay-Z.

Kanye's style of self-aggrandisement has been largely eschewed in favour of a more introspective worldview in which Cole is not afraid to address his fears and limitations. Let Nas Down is a striking number in which he opens up about how disappointed he was to hear that his hero Nas had dissed one of his early singles.

It's comparatively rare for major US rappers to admit to such vulnerabilities and to fashion a song around them.

Elsewhere, he has interesting things to say about race and misogyny although he surely could have made his point about the ills of homophobia without having to resort to a gay joke.

KEY TRACKS Villuminati; Let Nas Down

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