It’s going to be a controversial opinion, but I think I’m looking forward to Cole’s album more than I am Kanye’s. Maybe it’s because we’ve heard more music from Cole in the last 6 months (and it’s gone a little underappreciated, but he’s been very good in that period), but he’s just more fascinating for me as an artist; there’s no marketing ploy or attempt to court press coverage, and instead he seems back in the mindset of having something to prove, and that always makes for his best work.
The production here is a good blend between soulful and speaker-rattling, with a smooth vocal sample sitting above a chunky, deep percussion line with huge helpings of bass, and it’s a combination that rather aptly feels like an old-school Kanye West production. It’s one that works as both an introspective piece and a ‘typical hip-hop’ joint, both facets which Cole tackles with a lyrical output that veers between celebratory confidence and frank reflective moments, all delivered with a passion and hunger that suggests a return to pre-Sideline Story form. For longtime fans, it’ll conjure up memories of The Warm Up, and hopefully Born Sinner is packed with a few more of these.