Whew, after attending Cole's listening session and hearing leaked tracks here and there for the past week and change, there are a few things hip hop heads and music aficionados alike can learn from the lyrics on "Born Sinner". From the days of mixtape Cole, we knew that in his heart, he was very conflicted. Evidence has shown that this is the stuff legends are made of. These conflicts came to a head on Cole's latest project and as a result, we have some gems to impart just incase a they went over your head or simply in one ear and out the other.
1. Never compromise your integrity for a 'radio' hit. Many Cole fans first heard his music on the airwaves. If you managed to get hooked on Cole with "Workout" or "Can't Get Enough" then good for you. But many listeners needed more. I for one was like "That ain't him...he sounds too contrived". He was talking about typical rapper topics like sex, benzes etc but I could tell he was smarter than that. Plus, radio Cole was a little too far off from mixtape Cole. For the second album, Cole went back to the basics and bore his heart. Because he came with the real, there is much more praise for the authenticity of the album. Songs like "Let Nas Down" and "Born Sinner" detail Cole's journey of being lost and then found again in the rap game.
2. Ask yourself: "What Means The World To Me?" All throughout Born Sinner, namely "LAnd of Snakes" you can hear what is important to J. Cole. What makes him tick and what things he isn't willing to compromise for the money. One being his integrity, two being people that are important to him, the underclass, his relationship with his longtime girlfriend and much more. These things have dictated where Cole's music will and will not venture. Not to say he isn't talking about banging groupie hoes but there is a way to discuss everything tastefully and in a way that you can live with yourself.
3. Its hard being a rapper with morals. Hey, if it were easy, you would see more rappers in videos doing wholesome stuff like bbq-ing with the fam or going to church or making the decision not to cheat on his girlfriend with a video chick. You'd probably see more rappers putting strippers on payroll or teaching the kids to study their books instead of glorifying sex, drugs and violence. I'm not saying Cole is doing any of this but if there's any message he's making with "Born Sinner", its that good and bad do battle in his heart and mind all the time.
4. Good Guys F*** Up Too. Tell Cole he's perfect and the first thing he will say is "No. I'm not." Show girls a humble, upstanding rapper and they all swoon. Let nature take it's course and an inevitbale f*** will happen. Why? Because that's the way it works. Good men mess up every day, B. Its not just a part of the game, its a part of life. Born Sinner demonstrates that the best of us get caught up. The key is learning from those mishaps and doing better.
5. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You've heard it all your life but how many of you really refer to this rule when you're about to do something grimy? Not many. Cole is no different. We learn on Born Sinner that Cole feels remorse about doing chicks dirty back in college. He expresses regret for the way he's treated his current girl and even feelings about ignoring his moms from time to time. Nobody's perfect.
Take from these stories what you will and be better.