One of the most highly anticipated albums of 2013, J. Cole‘s Born Sinner is out as of this week. The rapper sat down with Hartford, Connec., radio station Hot 93.7 (a Radio.com station) to provide the breakdown behind his self-produced second LP and give insight on the inspiration behind a few of his favorite songs. Born Sinner, in the words of J. Cole, ladies and gents…
“LAnd of the Snakes”
“The L and the A are capitalized in Land. It is roughly about this time I went to L.A. to record an album and I thought about moving out there. I considered it, but the other side was telling me, ‘Don’t do it, it’s dangerous.’ You can lose yourself in Los Angeles, it has a dangerous climate– loosely [the song] is about that. It’s just an ill song, [it has] a lot of good flows, and the beat is crazy.”
“She Knows” (Feating Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman)
“This song is all about temptation. A lot of the album is about temptation. [The track] is very big [and] the beat is crazy. It is the best beat on the album.”
“Let Nas Down”
“This is probably the most important song on the album. The concept goes back to when I put out this song called ‘Work Out,’ the biggest single so far in my career. Long story short, Nas was disappointed in [‘Work Out’], and he wasn’t approving of the song.”
Cole mentioned how big of an influence Nas was on him at a young age, and his disapproval of Cole’s work was the influence behind the new track.
“I explain it in the song. I got defensive. I am a huge Nas fan, I hung his raps all over my wall–there were only a few rappers that made it to my wall. There was Nas, Eminem, Canibus, and Tupac. Maybe sometimes I would put DMX, sometimes Jay-Z would get a verse, but those are the only artists that made it to my wall.”
Cole continued, “I felt like [Nas] didn’t know the reason why I put the song out. I wrote [“Let Nas Down”] a year and some change after it happened and I didn’t tell anybody that I wrote this song until now… It stuck with me for that long.”
“Crooked Smile” (Featuring TLC)
“This song is just an anthem. [Born Sinner] works in halves. The first half is depressed and like hell. The second half is like heaven. ‘Crooked Smile’ is the theme song for the second half of the album. It is like making it out of the depression and celebrating it.”
Cole’s own crooked smile is the inspiration behind the title, and the rapper explained that the main message of the song involves embracing your own imperfections.
“The song is bigger than just my thing, it’s about everybody’s thing. Society tries to tell you there’s something about you that makes you inferior to the images they’re trying to put out there. [‘Crooked Smile’] is really me embracing my [imperfections] and trying to get other people to embrace theirs.”
TLC have survived through their share of trials and tribulations in the past years, and Cole explained that this was one of the reasons why he recruited them as a feature on the track.
“I was [always] a big fan of them. They represent the theme of the song. I felt like it was a perfect fit.”
Listen to the complete audio of Cole’s Born Sinner breakdown below.
–Tyler Roman, Hot 93.7 Hartford