J. Cole may come from the South, but he’s never been shy about expressing his admiration for his adopted hometown’s hip-hop icons. On New York Times, a bonus cut off the deluxe edition of his sophomore set, he goes one step further, proving that he can rhyme about the Big Apple just as skillfully as many emcees who have spent their whole lives there. Over his own lushly-sampled production, Cole juxtaposes NYC’s reputation as the land of opportunity against the gritty realities of violence and inequality with which many of its denizens are intimately familiar. Local heavyweight 50 Cent joins the headliner on the record’s hook, and Dreamville signee Bas contributes an aggressive closing 16. Born Sinner is slated to hit record stores and online retailers next Tuesday, June 18, via Dreamville/Roc Nation/Columbia.
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