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J. Cole – ‘Born Sinner’ Album Review

J. Cole could have called his sophomore set Confessions Of A Born Sinner. The hour-long offering plays like a recorded rip of a confessional box sit down with Jermaine, who pours out his signature “from-the-heart-shit” throughout the album’s 16-tracks. And while there’s a handful of vintage Cole here, Born Sinner also veers into previously uncharted territory for the 28-year-old, who goes to great lengths to prove just how conflicted and complicated he is.

Take the bluesy “Let Nas Down” for example, the album’s most honest moment. Here, Cole tackles his own insecurities with a story of the heartache felt when the QB legend shunned his bubbly hit “Work Out.” “I couldn’t help but think that maybe I had made a mistake/ I mean you made “You Owe Me” dawg, I thought that you could relate” he contends, over the saxophone-laden backdrop. The same sentiment can be found on “Rich Niggaz,” where a middle finger wagging Cole walks the line between feeling accomplished and resentful. “And watching little Jermaine do his thang before he made a name/ It’s like Sony signed Basquiat, he gave it all he got now the nigga don’t paint the same thang” he raps.

Much of the album is an inner battle between a lust for the fast life (groupies and things of that nature) and wanting something more substantial. The wobbling emotions can be a bit much at times, and Cole doesn’t quite have the finesse of a Drake to pull this balance off. “Trouble,” “She Knows” and “Runaway” are conceptually repetitious, and Cole’s introductory proclamation “It’s way darker this time,” feels like a calculated attempt to give a genuinely nice guy an edge.

Born Sinner’s best moments are when he embraces the persona that initially garnered him praise. “Power Trip”, “Crooked Smile” and “Let Nas Down” are the album’s strongest tracks, and they feel like the rapper who created The Warm Up, which only becomes problematic at times because of Cole’s insistence to produce almost all of his work. But while BS may not exhibit the growth sonically or conceptually that fans may have anticipated after hearing Cole’s early work, he remains too gifted lyrically, too keen of a storyteller, and too emotionally open for his sophomore LP to be anything less than impressive, but not overly so.—Ben Simms

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  • Trigga

    This ratings a joke man. Haha I WASNT a cole fan til a heard this shit I thought this was a serious contender for XXL

  • Trigga

    last time i fuck with this xxl site – trigga

  • Jason Madden

    XXL Just mad because J. Cole name dropped their ass on Born Sinner, this Review was very bais. Born Sinner 9/10.

  • Jake

    Beats was on XXL tho

    • Drama

      it was actually an L

    • Drama

      it was actually an L

  • http://bit.ly/10mGDTH Michael

    My Rating: 8.5 out of 10.0

  • bwilson

    Wow. This review is highly invalid. Holds no weight. Its 10x better than ‘Cole World’ and yall give it an “L”?

  • CallMePrince

    How was this not rated higher than Yeezus?

    • Andre


  • CoS

    How are you writing for XXL?. Do your research Ben. You’re actually sitting there looking for radio hits and not good music which is sad when you’re a voice to hip hop fans. Knockin’ self-production, look at the history of music! Albums these days have 10 songs with a feature and production from 12 different dudes that weren’t even there for the recording of the track.Fans like the intimacy in that he wrote and produced the entire album with the exception of the interludes which he didn’t produce.

    I mean new york times, born sinner, LAnd of Snakes,villimunati, He’s giving us biggie samples again, outkast samples, 50 samples on the appropriate new york times

    Hip hop loves that shit, embracing the past while pushing lyricism on. its what kendrick is doing in the west too.

    Its a breath of fresh air when you don’t hear Talib, The Roots, Mobb Deep, Ghostface, ect dropping stuff as much as we used to. Hip hop was not looking for radio hits, they were looking for respect from people and places that matter.

    Now if the magazine was called XXLBusiness, then yes, talk all day about how the industry would love Born Sinner more if it had a Trinidad James and Nikki Minaj features.which will no doubt get radio play and more money. Real recognize real and in my 14 year career as a hip hop fan, Born Sinner deserves a better review than that. Maybe another few listens. Your review was only 4 paragraphs long. They got you burnt out like that!

  • lee

    this review is a joke

  • A-Dogg

    Really tho?? I’m mean come on XXL…Did you miss the interludes or did you skipped pass them? His album is a well body of work. To take a gospel/church theme and put it a album for people to vibe and rock with is hard to do. His beats were well produced like on “Rich Niggaz” and “Crooked Smile.” Plus his lyrics are dope! Forreal tho XXL step your game up cuz if you put WMWTSO & Yeezus over Born Sinner, y’all poppin way too many mollies

  • CoS

    Billboard was Honest: “Yes, nowadays Yeezy is onto the abrasive, high-art futurism of “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead,” but hearing Cole update his old trademarks so skillfully almost make you miss a Kanye that was aiming to please more than challenge.

    Almost every song on “Born Sinner” is better than those two from “Yeezus” (admittedly, full-length studio versions of “New Slaves” and Black Skinhead” haven’t emerged yet). It seems inevitable that Kanye will win the sales showdown come June 18, but the excellence of “Born Sinner” makes the once unlikely-seeming possibility that Cole could win the more important contest — over listeners’ ears — a lot more real.”

    Thanks Alex Gale for a good summary.

    • utrippin!!!!

      L? This is review is pure bullshit

  • Matt

    deserves an XL.

  • YYY

    What. The. Hell. XL at the very LEAST! Just because he dissed XXL magazine in one of his songs, smh, this review is disgusting :0 Last time I’m visiting this stupid website!

    • po’

      Don’t mind these fools, or rather, this fool: Neil Martinez Belkins, the guy who handled this review is a well known douchebag. Every body who heard this album knows there was an improvement in production and yet his rating for beats is very low. The “fuck your magazine hater” line from J. Cole has to be the only reason this album got a poor rating.

      • tEn3HirTy

        WHos the fuckin hater shitting on my homie NMB

        • tEn3HirTy

          NMB didn’t even write the article it was Ben Simms who does sound like a moron after writing that terrible review of possibly the best album of 2013

    • po’

      Ben Simms is a douchebag too.

  • HigashiNY

    You give Cole World the Sideline Story, which was butt, a XL? But this a L? What a joke lmao. I can’t take yall serious as a magazine anymore ever since Elliot Wilson left

  • Afan

    this is whats wrong with the world, i have lost all my faith in human kind. its probably cuz he dropped this lines: “How many record do a nigga gotta sellJust to get the cover of the double X L Or fader, fuck ya magazine hater
    When I say that I’m the greatest I ain’t talking about later”

  • Fuck Your Magazine, Hater

    hahahahha, XXL is offended because Cole dissed their magazine. There’s no way Born Sinner is anything less than an XL rating.

    “may not exhibit the growth sonically”

    Seriously? This is by far Cole’s best work sonically. Wow…

  • that dude

    And who the fuck is Ben Simms, again?

  • that dude

    Mac Miller got a higher rating than J Cole. In all categories? Hhahahahahaha Not taking nothing from Mac but wow!!!!!

    • djsteez

      macs album was good why comment about it if you haven’t heard it

    • djsteez

      macs album was good why comment about it if you haven’t heard it

  • Yay Yay

    Done at the fact they gave Yeezus a XL but Born Sinner an L. Mac Miller deserved his XL, album was dope. But Yeezus? lmfao

  • bina

    definitely XL at the LEAST.

  • 2012Industry1

    This may have been your biggest misstep in your rating of an album! I think you guys were distracted from that “other album” that came out at the same time. This was a near classic performance J gave. I’m not the biggest fan, but give credit where credit is due!

  • Jamal Larry Tyler

    How many records do a nigga got sell just to get the cover of the xxl

  • Owen T

    lower than Yeezus, and lower than Watching movies? bull shit.

  • Mr. T

    This review is pathetic. Crab ass review. Come on, how are you going to give this album an L? The lyricism is the best I’ve heard in a long time, the beats is crazy, the topics he is touching on is deep, and there is a clear theme throughout the whole CD. This is a fresh breath of rap music in a genre that seems to be stagnating. Inspirational music.

    XXL, you just need to change this review. The guy reviewing this wants to sabotage J. Coles rise to the top, and I’m not sure why. What a loser.

    Wait till you see the first week sales. As I see it, this album is going to sell good. XXL is the only part thats losing out from giving this album an L.

  • Ill Soul


    XXL just lost my last caring for album rating systems.

    XL is the lowest this album should have gotten. SMH.
    I’m done and I don’t even write on things like this.

  • akil

    what a joke, how can you rate trash like owl pharaoh better than this.

  • akil

    what a joke, how can you rate trash like owl pharaoh better than this.

  • Drama

    this was clearly the best album of the June 18th trio. and only an L? i was expecting an XXL when i clicked this link, such BS

  • Drama

    this was clearly the best album of the June 18th trio. and only an L? i was expecting an XXL when i clicked this link, such BS

  • Chong

    Even more annoyin’ is when XXL don’t reply?!
    I mean, every post on here disagrees!
    Step your game up and re-write the review… or at least comment back?!

  • Chong

    Even more annoyin’ is when XXL don’t reply?!
    I mean, every post on here disagrees!
    Step your game up and re-write the review… or at least comment back?!

  • po’

    Fuck your magazine hater!! hahaha!!

  • po’

    Fuck your magazine hater!! hahaha!!

  • Ghost

    Not sure how this got an L? I was expecting an XXL or XL at least? The reviewer seems very biased. Come on Ben Simms -> Don’t be mad at Cole, be mad at yourself. I’m guessing you will get it in time

  • erik

    Smh at L rating. Wouldnt suprise me if Kanye got XXL due to his name and not because of his album

  • djsteez

    The review is good, he literally jacked two classic beats from Outkast and A Tribe Called Quest. Also the album was to repetitive.

  • TheDBC

    WOW….this is disrespectful almost. How a magazine like XXL call themselves a hip hop magazine, but give Born Sinner and L. It was a million times better than Cole World, in terms of lyricism, production, and cohesiveness and only got an L? I’m sorry but this magazine has just lost all its credibility. WMWTSO is an L, Yeezus is and L-XL, Born Sinner is easily and should’ve been an XXL. Pure disrespect! It just shows that Jay-Z was right : “Do you fools listen to music, or do you just skim through it?”

    • Jordan Schrock

      mac miller deserved the xl but I agree with everything else


      yeezus is shit L at best. movies and born sinner deserve xl no doubt though

  • Truth Teller

    Review is VERY VERY on point. And this is coming from someone who has followed Cole since The Come Up, not even The Warm Up. The three standout songs on this project are “Crooked Smile”, “Let Nas Down” and “Power Trip”. Outside of that it’s very forgettable. Fanboys are riding hard for him and that’s good but if you compare it to a Drake or Kendrick album, you almost wanna drop him out of that league which makes the L rating accurate. Cole fans are kids who also rap which is great because he gives them hope. Guys who aren’t rich like Drake or aren’t hood certified like Kendrick but dream of making it. Cole is your leader and that’s fine. But don’t get mad at those who have a higher standards than what he’s producing. No one is saying it’s bad, just not mind blowing phenomenal.

    • fuck Benn Simms

      1. of course your best songs are power trip, crooked smile and let nas down
      2. then you come here after googling his previous work to act like a long time fan.
      3. you just another hype dick rider, and we done seen too many of your kind today bruh bruh

      And his fans are not people who rap Dumbass. if you say kendrick is better, ill be like ehh, maybe. BUT drake!, really?

      EITHER YOURE A GIRL, of some faggot ass nigga who love singing “ILL TAKE CARE OF YOU IN THE SHOWER”. GTFOH.


      • Truth Teller


    • Shon

      I agree with everything you said. This album just wasn’t in the same league as a “Take Care” or “Good Kid, Maad City”. With that being said, I think it could’ve been if he didn’t try to produce so much of the album himself. I think his production was lacking on this album. The L rating was appropriate.

    • RE

      Rating is bogus. Also, I’d avoid making gross stereotypes about audiences that cannot be backed up by statistics as they show how uneducated you really are.

      The reality is that most J. Cole fans I’ve met are college educated professionals that can appreciate the metaphors in his music and understand the double meanings behind his lyrics.

      The bottom line is Drake’s album is only better IF you look purely at beats and disregard lyrical ability. Kendrick Lamar’s album may flow better, but he is not nearly as lyrically gifted as J. Cole.

      • Cocaine Howie

        Kendrick Lamar’s album may flow better, but he is not nearly as lyrically gifted as J. Cole.

        “That’s where ya wrong” – Jay-Z

        An album is more than lyrics. An album is more than beats. You need to be able to balance both without one overpowering the other. That’s what makes a solid album and I think Mac Miller did that better than Yeezus and BS. You need to have a cohesive project that doesn’t sound like one drawn out record (looking at you Ye). It’s pretty much Cole complaining like he always is and while we expected that, I wanted a little more.

  • what a joke of a website

    …and this is why hip-hop is the laughing stock in the world and will never be taken seriously because talented artists are downplayed for not talking about hoes and buggattis and most of the shit people can not relate to.

  • Kojo Sen

    Ben Simms, you’re a straight-up idiot.

  • Matt Vogel

    XXL stopped being a credible source a long time ago, piece of shit rating from a piece of shit magazine. News flash: it’s 2013, who the fuck reads magazines anymore?

    • fuck Benn Simms


  • Sticks

    “Ayyo I know this is my 8th time posting on this website, but THIS is my last time ever doing it! Before, I was just kidding. I hate these guys, but I keep reading their reviews and writing stuff. But seriously, NOW I’m done.” lmao grow up guys

  • KCB


  • Aneurys santos

    seriously?? an ‘L’- I mean its true, Kanye will get higher ratings because he put himself out there in a bad and good light. Coles album is so much better than kanyes, not hating on kanye, ( do your thing boy) but shit, coles shit be too real for ears. but its sad and true, we should blame our self for making people like Trinidad james and nikki FAMOUS. cause now we cant even give our boy cole here real numbers, but he knows he got real fans out here. “just pray along the way that I don’t loose my self” this if for the nigga that said that HIP hop was dead, I went to hell to resurrected, How did you fail to respect it” ben?

  • GoldenSimba27

    This album isn’t even better the Friday Night Lights. The album was good but it was a let down. I don’t think J. Cole is creative enough to change up his sound all of his stuff is starting to sound the same. That’s why it got a L, but it should have got at least an XL but Mac Miller did drop a better album the Cole.

  • thatdooode

    awful review….stop hatin and give him the rating he deserves FUCK YO MAGAZINE HATAAAA

  • PROmi$

    WHEN LIL WAYNE PUT OUT THE SHIT THAT WAS “I AM NOT A HUMAN BEING 2″ IT GOT AN M. That review was correct, yet xxl decided to take it down for whatever reason. There is no way this album is just a step above that trash, do the same with this and update it to an xl because you know it deserves it. Find another artist hungrier than Cole.



  • Ronald Jack

    All of the negative reviews I read about Born Sinner often compare Cole to Drake or Kendrick Lamar. I don’t think you can do justice to an artist by saying they can’t make a song like this or that artist. If he did then it would not be original

    • fuck Benn Simms




  • YXXL?

    “Power Trip”, “Crooked Smile” and “Let Nas Down” are the album’s strongest tracks, and they feel like the rapper who created The Warm Up, which only becomes problematic at times because of Cole’s insistence to produce almost all of his work.

    He produced all of the Warm up you clown, such an invalid review

    Fuck ya magazine hater

  • Jordan Schrock

    what the fuck is this shit

  • 123

    The worst review i’ve ever read, if mac got an XL how can you justify giving this an L. An sideline story got an XL and Born sinner shits on sideline story. You lot just salty because he put you lot in a lyric

  • Ranz

    F*Cking Joke. 2nd best album that came out this week. Best album was Statik Selektah’s

  • veddy

    god damn this is a disgrace of a review. seriously, this is a job security issue with you. i’m almost speechless really, not sure how to react to this with any positivity

  • BlackGuy4260

    All of these mad J. Cole fans. Sure it’s a good album but
    it’s not great. The main problem with this album is that he played it safe. Not
    a lot of progression from a guy whose been rapping as long as he has.
    Production wise he doesn’t bring anything new. I do give him major props for
    basically producing the whole album himself but his beats are lacking. Sounds
    more like mixtape beats than Studio album Level. Lyric wise Cole kills it. Some
    of his best lines are subliminal for example: “The same reason they call
    Mr. Cee “the finisher” Forbidden fruit, watch for the Adam’s
    apple” Classic clever J. Cole lines. He does lyric bite a few times on
    this album but I’m not going to dock him for that. The single tracks are too
    strong. Besides Let NaS down, Runaway and Trouble I was expecting more hidden
    gems. Tracks like Rich Niggaz, Land of the Snakes feel like filler tracks. When
    I listen to albums I actually critique them from start to finish and this album
    gets a 7.0 from me. I just gave all of you my honest opinion. Fuck you J. Cole
    dickriders who disagree but don’t give reasons.

    • BRAD

      Not a lot of progression???? Have you listened to both his albums? This guy Matured TEN FOLD since Sideline story cmon man

    • chiraqi

      ur 7.0 is even higher than than what this faggot rated. no one is saying its album of the year but this album was better than his first sonically and deserved at least a 4/5, XXL or 8/10. but i’m enjoying the album. this review won’t hinder my appreciation for the album.

    • fuck Benn Simms

      More like an 8/8.5. and his beats are not lacking, he finally figured out how to mix spitting real bars and still make it a banger, his production level increased by at least 65% mate, listen to his older shit. and he’s singing has improved also which is why if you notice there are a lot more female d*ckriders now.

      And this is definitely studio album level, if you listen to cole world right now, you’ll see how much better this is. and rich niggaz and land of the snakes were not filler tracks, they contributed to the concept of the album, which has to do with the seven sins, rich niggaz( Envy) and land of the snakes ( lust), (greed) on forbidden fruit, (pride) on villuminati and so on..

    • Jonas

      Finally a guy who can explain his opinion properly

  • True477

    This should have been a XL at least and could have been a XXL. In my opinion this could be a classic. I also think this album has longevity in the sense I could listen to this 10 years from now and still have relevance. I lost a lot of respect today for XXL reading this shitty, biased review.

  • Jay DeLuca

    bull shit album was awesome xl fucked ^ on this 1…..still coped and playing the crap out of it

  • Str33tJustus

    Wow! This is right up there with Killmatic as my 2 favorite albums this year. An L? Seriously? Yeezus was trash and it gets a higher rating?!?!? I’m sorry but this is just unacceptable. Can we get a 2nd opinion review? Y’all dropped the ball on this one.

  • Invaderrjl

    Power Trip was a good song

  • James Fox

    Wow. This review is terrible, I don’t know what you heard but this album deserves at least an XL…… “Bitch!” *J.Cole voice*

  • Wesley Roberson

    Did this nigga really jus say crooked smile and power trip were the strongest songs? lmfao this whole article lost all credibility with that one

  • Jeadi N’Silu

    Yeezus & Born Sinner just simply can’t be compared. I understand to an extent why they’re albums are being compared because they’re both rappers. BUT!!! we should be realising that what Kanye has put out isn’t a proper Hip-Hop album, he’s on cloud 81 experimenting with sound. I don’t even know what Kanye’s new album’s genre could be. but Him and Cole had two different concepts in mind. The only thing that made these two albums compete, was both albums being released on the same date hence only SALES becomes the competition to be won out of the two albums.


    this review is fucked up, i was expecting a xxl or xl at the least, FUCK YOUR MAGAZINE HATER

  • Abstract

    Wouldve been XXL if he didnt diss them, but im happy he did haha

  • Jimmy C

    what the fuck!? This album is fucking amazing! wow..lemme guess they gonna call Kanyes a masterpiece and this one just gonna get shoved under all the rest of the shit that came out this week

  • dk

    How the fuck is this a L??? THIS is some hippopotamus DUNG!! FUCK the critic who gave this a L!!! THis album is clearly better than his first LP and that received a XL! FUCK you ben and your magazine!!

  • juju

    this dude has to be white.


    they can’t serious with this i hope they realize they losing credibility and i dont even like J.Cole like that i just heard album from my boy

  • umad

    y’all need to hop off j cole hes not that nice, hes a phony a fake his traks are the same jcole your wack as fuck

  • RE

    It’s hard to approach this album as a music fan and give it anything less than an XL. For people who remember and respect music from the 90s (and don’t just live in the present), this album was about as pure and throwback as it gets. This CD is as much a lyrical journey as a sonic one yet the review doesn’t acknowledge this at all. Does your music collection contain anything pre-2005?

    I fail to see the Drake comparison, as J. Cole’s tracks are more of a confession and less of a man crying. Conceptually repetitious is a slight? Last time I checked in literary terms that is what you’d call a theme, commonly used to hammer home a point. This review is very representative of the times: Everything needs to be new and fresh and anything reminiscent of the past needs to be left in the past or bashed. In truth, this album is going to get bad reviews by anyone with an MTV generation mentality because it spurns everything the present day is about.

  • The Dreamer

    1st of all this review complete trash. I can’t believe Benn Simms and friends had the audacity to give anything less than a XL as my fellow music connoisseurs can also agree. I think It’s safe to say that there’s a hint of salt all through this review. Such a joke. Every track on the album is strong. J. Cole keeps real Hip-Hop alive. However, I can’t be too surprised about this review given the fact that J. Cole made it clear that he could care less about the reviews. XXL has lost me on this one.

  • brahman

    Yall need to re review this album you guys are really losing credibility!

  • XAP

    Whoever rated this and wrote this review isn’t a J.Cole fan. Which makes everyone wonder..do you even know what real hip hop is? This album is what everyone was expecting for his first album. I hope he out sells Kanye in the long run for this release. Good Job J.Cole, can’t wait to hear that album with Kendrick Lamar you guys got cooking up.


    lol xxl fucked this one up for sure

  • Deez

    Beats: XL
    Lyrics: M
    Originality: L

  • Yeezusseasonapproching

    finally born sinner < YEEZUS !!!


    LMAO an L?!? Are you fucking stupid?? An XL AT THE VERY LEAST

  • Scadds

    LOL @ XXL Magazine for this ‘review’.. my dog could have done a better review of Born Sinner.
    p.s his BEST work yet.. hopefully plenty more to come.

  • Da Don (Givenchy Lifestyle)

    fuck y’all xxl mag.

  • Mr. Propane

    BORN SINNER deserves an XL rating. WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU BEN SIMMS?!?! The production has grown immensely since Cole World: Sideline Story. The lyrics are as strong as ever and the conceptual themes make the album better than just an measly L rating. True its not better than his mixtapes but the it is better than his previous album and that’s all we ask for… an artist to get better and better with every album.

  • jabroni

    In a few months, probably less, you’re going to look back at this rating and realize just how stupid it was.

  • WHylord

    XXL are single handedly killing Hip-Hop with these reviews ..

    Gucci Mane – Trap House 3 – - – L (correct rating)

    French Montana – excuse my french – - – L (correct rating)

    J Cole – Borner sinner – - – L (hmmm)

    This has got my crazy mad at the moment .

    Imma hack XXL

  • YungKizz

    j cole album is fire yeezus wasnt impress too much an mac miller album fire too

  • Corey

    L ???? Every post can’t be on point but just read the reviews and see what the ppl have to say about the BS rating. lmao horrible !

  • #Swank #HHG

    Never took J. Cole serious until I heard Born Sinner, its a GREAT Album in every aspect of its making, He really put his Heart and Soul into this Album and gained a lot of respect from me

  • RGW

    I dunno I could see how this gets an ‘L’. There’s no bangers on this album. I mean none of the songs are bad, but I’m not about to put this album on heavy rotation and listen to it front to back more than once.

  • CHief

    Nigga fuck XXL this is the best album out of the 3.

  • garrett

    joke review bruh cant even believe this shit man this was way doper then yeezus an macs album it the ratin shoulda been on par with those

  • Will Greene

    I respect your opinion, XXL, but I am also entitled to my own. My opinion is that your opinion is shit.

  • Guest

    XL at the least. This will be the last time I read a XXL review. I just became a J Cole fan off this album. Its better than yeezus.

  • VLLN

    Ben Simms is a chooch. You un kno shit bout hip hop.

  • marky

    I really hope you guys plan to rate this over

  • JR


  • Jo

    Wtf! This is a bull shit review, Fuck you XXL w/ a sick dick.

  • Jay DeLuca

    Album of the year so far + the Lyrics came with the album glad i coped it 2 put in the archives.& fuck kanyes album downloaded mac but aint worth my $ thank J.cole 4 a dope album 4 the summer with repect from the “WESTCOAST”#greatness starts @ 4:45am

  • key

    xxl mad. this album is a classic. the sound is crazy die slow xxl



  • MFarrer74

    There is no way in hell that Born Sinner and Excuse My French are on the same level….no way…If you’re going to give Born Sinner an L you should have rated Excuse My French an M

  • Chris M. McDade

    You all know that this is the reviewers opinion, right? Just because you love or hate an album, doesn’t mean I have to feel the same way about it.

  • Dreamville

    Really he should get xxl on lyrics -.-

  • williambrujan

    how dare you disrespect this man’s hard work like this you s.o.b. But trust me when i say that the fans and the public already know whats going on at the top with the music industry and politics..you guys are fucking douche bags and we all know it

  • Carldrick Lamar

    Daaamn, I would have said XXL or XL at least, this is deffinetly one that needs a re-looking at soon! Born Sinner is one of the top albums of 2013 so far!

  • Mycheal Woods

    Bruh really a Large guys……lets be for real…..this album sooooo gets a XL. Beats should be a 4 or a 3…. it should be 4 across the board.

  • annoyed.


  • http://twitter.com/305beast52 305beast52

    i saw the rating and thought who let Diggy review shit?

  • tallzo

    ok so Lil B got an XL for his last mixtape n J cole an L…
    LIL B!!???? R U SERIOUS???????

  • ManOfSteel

    wow I just had to comment for the first time, but I just bought this album. Bumped a couple songs. There is no way Yeezus is better than this. I cannot believe you gave this an L. At least an XL definitely! This album is really good, great production, lyrics on point as they’re so honest from Cole’s heart. Sorry I do not agree with this review. And its not down to opinion. You are meant to look at this at a musical neutral point of view and you cannot tell this is a better than average album. Not trusting XXL on reviews again. Even hiphopdx reviews better than you guys

  • Young Prafit

    Now You Know This Review Is Some Bullshit This Should Be A XXL For Sure!!!

  • three

    xxl really needs to redo this rating. its unanimous that Ben Simms got it wrong. Holding back cole is just bad for hip hop. he clearly put out a solid album. one that i believe will be around for a while with great content. yet this site gives waka and french XL’s when they aint talking bout nothin’… I thought this magazine is supposed to support the genre. i’m just disappointed.

  • JJJ

    Horrible review, dude has no knowledge of what he’s talking about. Deserved a way better rating, production alone was amazing

  • youhaveaids4eva

    Damn, I’ve never seen so many people go against an album review like the people over here! That’s how you know this bullshit rating doesn’t mean shit if the people don’t agree (which pretty much no one agrees) then this review and rating has absolutely no meaning get your head out of your ass Ben!

  • Kwadwo Firempong-Boakye

    Arguably the best album this year so far!! ITS FUCKING AMAZING!!!!

  • The Truth

    XXL is Booty for this review.


  • Danny

    I expected this to happen. Come on guys, this is the same magazine that gave Lil B mixtape a XL….smh XXL.

  • Devin

    Wow Cole got cheated on this one I believe XL he contends for XXL I agree runaway was a little repetitious but he stepped up on his flow, beats, and truly yours 3 was pretty good in my opinion.

  • Matt

    this album is trash. beats are so boring. puts me to sleep. would u listen to this a few years, or even a few months ?

    • bubbaking

      Hip hop isn’t all about beats you fucking idiot.

  • ererte

    XXL is a fucking joke

    • BOB

      And yet here you are.

  • ererte

    i guess cole gotta write a ” let XXL down ” to get any sort of praise


    Ben Simms is going to get called in the office on Monday morning, he may as well hand in his resignation letter. You clearly do not have an understanding of hip hop culture nor do you have an understanding of an artist putting together a cohesive project. Only God knows how you managed to get a job at XXL when you have missed the mark totally with this review. Just because it may not be good as the Warm Up or Friday Night Lights does not mean he should be punished for his future work.

  • Jay DeLuca

    “BORN SINNER” man been having it on repeat since it dropped. been bangin on the bus in my portable cd player lmao going 2 basketball practice. and i read the lyrics from the liner notes man i understand it alot more..got the team 2 go out & buy there own copy!!!!!!!!#greatness starts @ 4:45am

  • j1021

    Its absolutely disgusts me that this album got the same rating as Chief Keef’s “Finally Rich”…. and we wonder why hip hop is moving away from true lyricism and subject matter

  • Andrew

    This gets L and Yeezus get XL. what a joke!

  • Le Don

    “L” WTF !!!!! c’mon man he deserves at least XL

  • Wedne$day

    Born Sinner was slightly better than K.dot’s GKMC *JS how the fuck you gone give this masterpiece an L? This album is XXLL

    • BOB

      you are a terrible liar

  • MIKE


  • WordUp

    How did Sideline Story get an XL and Born Sinner an L? Wtf lol.

  • photdeez

    reviewer is str8 hater with no soul and integrity….

  • New Golden Era

    What the FUUUUCK?! No way this ALBUM got an L rating, this is absolutely INSANE! I adherently follow hip hop music, when I bought this album I listened to it front to back, LITERALLY, without pressing the skip button ONCE. There’s only a few select artist that can deliver a body of work that can evoke that kind of response from a listener.

    Nas is one, Kendrick. and Now J. Cole. This album was a masterpiece. Yes I know it just came out a week ago and it must stand the test of time but upon my first two listens I fell in love with the album. It reignited my passion and love for hip hop music.

    The lyrics are reminiscent of Nas’ God son or It was Written. It is deep, honest, thought provoking, insightful and more importantly creative. Cole flat out makes himself vulnerable and spews his inner-most thoughts, feelings onto each and every track. That’s one thing no critic can critique, that’s full blown honesty, that’s the feeling and emotion that you get when you hear a hip hop album and fall in love with it.

    That’s what the Art is about. It is clear J. Cole cares about the Art and Craft of Hip Hop and honors the pioneers and greats that came before him. How else could you make a song called “Let Nas Down”, or rap lyrics like “Pac was like Jesus/Nas wrote the bible” or “Apologies to O’ Gs for sacrificing my art”?

    The average rapper wouldn’t care as long as he’s making money.

    But not to get sidetracked this album is DEFINITELY NOT AN L. XL the least. His GROWTH from the first album is evident. There is a constant theme throughout the album.

    XXL needs to relisten or get someone else to listen and come up with another rating because this one obviously falls short. Im sorry im just calling it like it is.

  • Sinner

    This rating is obviously bs, Yeezus got XL and and like Kanye, but that album is not good at all. This rating definitely means nothing now..

  • muhammed

    today xxl has lost all credibility, how the fuck can you give bornsinner the same rating as chief keef’s “finally rich” and french montana’s “excuse my french” these clowns no nothing about hiphop

  • infamous_mh

    Ben Simms should be fired!!! If bringing the real struggles of being a young black man faced with the pitfalls of the music industry while trying to stay true to yourself grants you a L rating from XXL then you need ppl who can appreciate music doing your reviews sorry Ben. #cole world 1 of the realist out and he didn’t rely on 10 features or big name producers to push his album just straight talent. XL for Wales the gifted and all the sings sound the same no eveolution from from ambition and I’m a huge wale fan smh @ XXL

  • Mike

    This review is terrible, your opinion, Mr Simms is totally invalid. Scroll down the comments and you’ll see comment after comment that completely agrees with this. Frankly, you shouldn’t be in any position to review hip-hop, this is outrageous.

  • KingoftheKicks

    Pitchfork gave Born Sinner a 60. Did J. Cole diss them too??? LOL

  • dubs

    Wow, what a bullshit review, XXL stay slipping. Scared to pan Kanye for releasing a horrible hip hop album, yet give Cole an L when he held down an entire albums rapping and production by himself, and made a damn good album. Creative subject matter, dope flows, banging beats, what more could we ask for? In future people will look back on this album as a modern day classic ala Take Care and GKMC. This just reminded me why I don’t mess with XXL anymore, they care about image and pop culture >>> music.

  • M.Scott

    This dude Ben Simms is sleep like a fucking baby..!! No way in the world this album should be a L. I see XXL Mag is in dire need of some new journalist. They need to check the boy’s resume and get some real writing talent in the building.

  • Tare

    Its actually sad you guys couldn’t review this album from a neutral perspective. Appalling even! On top of that you go and dick-ride Kanyes poor attempt and doing an alternative album. def a contender for XXL rating.

  • Ya Mom

    HORRIBLE ALBUM!!!! And I used to put people on to Cole back when the Warm Up dropped. I’m losing my patience with dude

  • DatDudeBruhBruh

    I would gave this shit a M… or maybe even an S. Only good tracks on here is Villuminati & Forbidden Fruits. Everything else trash.

  • natalie

    Thats what Im saying this luke warm ass response to the album killed me. But Im pretty sure this sucked Kanye’s weak ass Yeezus off. You can wipe your a$$ with that album lol

  • B.Frye

    “Fuck your Magazine Hater!” lol XXL is just mad that he said fuck them. I hope the author of this sees these comments. How is he and other famous magazines the only one saying this but everybody else, the actual listeners, and “relevant” hip hop people are saying otherwise. I’m done with XXL lol. This album is the closest to a hip hop classic in a while. I’m convinced these people would give Illmatic an L, if Nas said fuck them. I can’t take them seriously anymore. They’re tarnishing hip hop with their politically and financially inspired reviews.

  • mike.riera69

    shit was a S fym?

  • Big D.Eazy

    This review makes XXL look stupid if u ask me hahahaha

  • HarryJr Stephens

    this album was dope as fuck u guys mad cause u caught some heat on it

  • kcccc

    yeezus ftw

  • Black Infinity

    FUCK XXL for killing hip hop with this misleading review.

  • Ntshepe

    This review is absolute nonsense!!!!! L???? Clearly you didn’t listen to the album. This mag just lost the lil respect i had for it.

  • Guest

    Yo XXL is a joke how does Born Sinner get a L really? a L? WTF XXL who the hell is running this shit. You give Yeezus a XL, Mac Miller’s Album XL, but Born Sinner L? And born sinner had some great tracks Forbidden Fruit, Villuminati, Power Trip and even Let Nas Down.

  • mchype

    XXL is a joke Born Sinner a L? Really? a L? WTF? Who’s running this website. Hopefully they changed everybody basically praised that album and i know this review is based on a opinion but a fucking L? COME ON XXL y’all slippin.

  • XXL Fell off

    XXL is a joke! It seems that between all your employees, none of you can distinguish between good and bad music. This album is better than Yeezus and has a lower rating?

  • Ralph Toussaint

    at first i was talking shit because i did not hear the album. lets just say i almost wasted an hour and 18 minutes listening to this garbage. if i was a music exec i would throw away this album in j cole’s face. why couldn’t it be j Cole that got locked up instead of max b and i dont even like max b. this is one of those albums that you lose under your car seat then when you find it you smash it with your feet cause you wasted your money.

    • Josh Kriese

      Never share your idiotic opinion again.


      Sincerely EVERYONE

  • House Shoes

    This Is The Worst Review In History. Period

  • AngryCitizen

    Album was a minimum a XL DUMB REVIEW!

  • kallday

    This rating is way off. I have gifted, mchg,yeezus, and born sinner is by far the best. I can no longer consider your ratings credible.

  • Trey Arline

    Woooooooooooow people are so butthurt. Cole made a boring ass album about the same shit he always does, and got a lower rating for it. Big deal.

    • Josh Kriese

      Your a moron

      • Trey Arline

        Use the right form when trying to insult someone, idiot.

        • Josh Kriese

          Fine. You’re a moron

  • Josh Kriese

    XL IMO

  • Andre

    Cole > than JAY this time. SORRY

  • Andre

    Cole XL , Jay L

  • Manny Munoz

    FUCK Ben Simms hes a fagot, Born Sinner deserves XXL, how the fuck did Yeezus get an XL? That album was wack as fuck.

  • Kemp dawg

    This review is crap! Born Sinner the best hip hop album so far this year. XXL rubbish!

  • Dolla&aDreamer

    “When I Say that Im the greatest .. I aint talkin bout lata”

    XXL nobody fux wit ur magazine like that anyway

    “Fuk Ya Magazine Hater!!”

  • InTheGame

    Well XXL….Now you look like complete idiots! The Public has spoken..Born Sinner is No. 1…and has outsold everything in the last three weeks! Why? Because EVERYBODY can find a bit of themselves on this “Masterpeice” of a project…um..it’s ok..you can still save face ..suck it up..admit it…YOU WERE WRONG!~

  • cp

    Holy Grail and Gayzus get an XL and this gets a L. Bullshit.

  • Trilla Nigga

    What the fuck? Why the hell did the dumbass who review this rate his beats at “L” level? These are some of the most insane beats i’ve heard for a while!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Co-Sign3

    It’s ridiculous that XXL gave this album an L. Ben, read an overwhelming majority of the at the comments, hopefully you can now see the error in your ways! This album, for the record, is dope as hell

  • Aries

    how the fuck did such a stupid album like yeezus get an XL and this album gets an L?? y’all at XXL mag are all a bunch of biased syphilitic donkeys. Ben Simms you need to go EAT A DICK MUTHAFUCKER cuz this review is just disgusting and stupid

  • dusty68

    he gave this a L and gave Jay-Z a xl this guy is crazy

  • cmack510

    L? jus an L…does anyone else know a decent hip hop site?

  • Fan

    Album of the year.

  • FAN

    This album got the same rating as Gucci Mane and French Montana’s albums LOL

  • phillycaines

    terrible rating ! this album was better than both yeezus and MCHG in my opinion. I know friends who didnt even know who j cole was but now everyone is saying his name. WHO DAT WHO DAT?

  • muhammed

    “how many records does a nigga gotta sale just to get the cover of the xxl or fader? fuck your magazine hater”

  • pacalyptic

    This Review is a joke! This is one of the best albums OUT, so much for XXL credibility

  • cp

    This is an absolute joke. I question if you are listening to the same album that I did with Born Sinner. This is an excellent album – fuck this review.

  • M E

    This rating is right. As somebody who watched Cole from the Come Up to now. This album should have been a killer. It got pushed back because GKMC so I expected something of that caliber with this album. I found myself getting bored with the album. He has good songs on their but it’s not something I can listen to on repeat. He didn’t even own the summer, Drake’s Versace verse and Kendrick’s Control verse were more talked about than this album. Not just because of hype either but because they did something innovative. The skits were misplaced on this and it just wasn’t cohesive piece of work. Still his bars are up there so he at least gets an L.

  • HipHopHead999

    L/XXL = 3/5 = 6/10. Meaning that this is barely above average (5). WOW. Moronic reviewer…

  • Demarcus

    Album of the year. He outsold Kanye with like no promotion or anything… This is a terrible review.

  • Hiphopnerdindisbitch

    I see XXL came to their senses and changed their rating to XL, like it should’ve been in the first place.

  • Lugine Gray

    XXL Magazine finally made their review category somewhat respectable by moving this from a M to XL status