Label: Roc Nation/Columbia
It's appropriate that J. Cole duets with Kendrick Lamar on "Forbidden Fruit," a jazzy homage to A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation." Both MCs excel with lyrics rich in personal anecdotes, and are anomalies in a mainstream obsessed with simple, club-baiting hooks. The difference is Cole, who produces most of Born Sinner, makes beats as deceptively unassuming as his words, but listeners shouldn't overlook this album because of it. He may work hard to not "Let Nas Down," but he's smart enough to make a good radio single or two, as the heavy flirtations of "Power Trip" proves.