It’s been a day marked in the calendars for all hip-hop heads. A day in which two artists decided to go head to head and drop their respective albums on June 18.
Introducing J.Cole and Kanye West and their competing albums Born Sinner and Yeezus, respectively.
Cole’s the rookie in this match, dropping his sophomore album while the veteran, Mr. West, is well on his way to achieving his illustrious seventh title.
Born Sinner provides its audience with 16 tracks all produced by Cole, minus the interludes. Throughout the album, Cole takes his audience alongside his expedition, tackling issues that come with the fame of being of a superstar in the world of hip-hop.
Cole develops into a lyrical beast from the get-go on the opening track “Villuminati” which samples one of the greats, Notorious B.I.G. In the opening verse, Cole sets the scene on what fans can expect.
“Sometimes I focus on the flow to show the skills I got. Sometimes I focus on the dough, look at these bills I got. This is a message for some rappers trying to steal my spot.”
Cole illustrates that one of his many internal battles is creating songs for a wide variety of fans while staying true to his craft. It represents Cole’s flexibility as an artist and his knack to adapt in order to preserve his fans, at the same time meet industry standards.
From personal issues to fighting temptations, Cole opens up about being a victim of the lifestyle and dwindling to the afflictions of being a man trying to be faithful.
“When it’s all said and done, everybody dies. In this life ain’t no happy endings, only pure beginnings followed by years of sinning and fake repentance.”
Cole explains that we’re all given purity at birth and then we sin, act as though we’ve learned from our sins, and then continue to sin soon afterwards, otherwise known as the vicious cycle.
Unlike Cole’s debut where he struggled to find himself, his sophomore effort held a consistent theme and sound from start to finish. Cole brought his fans back to his mixtape days and showed us why we fell in love with him. The album is personal and his story-telling methods allowed fans to visualize his journey. Cole delivered a complete album and solidified his spot amongst the greats in this game of hip-hop.
Now, let’s take a step out of reality and travel to the opposite end of the spectrum. Kanye Wests’ seventh studio album Yeezus bent the regulations and broke the rules when it comes to conventional hip-hop, yet still delivered. Kanye West has always transcended barriers through his music and Yeezus introduced a new level of ambition on behalf of Yeezy himself.
Kanye has never been afraid to blend a range of sounds to his work. From sampling 70s soul in his early work to using electronic sounds from hits, such as “Paranoid” and “Stronger.” This time around, he did the same while creating a new wave of sounds. Throughout the album, fans go on a rollercoaster ride with a boat load of electronic music, punk rock mixed with thick sounds of dubstep and trap.
Kanye was the general on the production side, overseeing his team and their creative styles. Kanye received production help from the likes of Daft Punk, Hudson Mohawke, No I.D., Mike Dean and many others.
We all know Kanye is known for his ego and he doesn’t disappoint taking arrogance to new heights.
“I know He the most high, but I am a close high.”
Kanye refers to Jesus as the most high however he views himself as a close second on the track “I am a God.” That is not a typo. . .
On “Send it up” the signature boasting continues…
“She say ‘Can you get my friends in the club?’ I say ‘Can you get my Benz in the club?’ If not, treat your friends like my Benz, park they ass outside ’til the evening.”
While we may lose ourselves in the bass thumping beats, Kanye takes us back to his roots where he battles with societal standards while highlighting the cultural and racial issues that exist till this day.
“You see it’s broke n**** racism, that’s that ‘don’t touch anything in the store.’ And this rich n**** racism, that’s that ‘Come in, please buy more.’”
The standout track is “Blood on the Leaves” where Kanye creates a concoction of all the ingredients that he’s made of. Sampling Nina Simone throughout the track, and then taking us back to his auto-tune era combined with his new wave of trap and dubstep sound. Finally finishing off by a term he coined himself, going H.A.M.
Yeezus is an experimental project that is thought-provoking to say the least. Kanye provides highlights to his old self while creating a new genre of music, placing him ahead of his rivals. A departure from the orthodox hip-hop album, Kanye delivers a breath of fresh air and continues to revolutionize his musical collection.
Yeezus and Born Sinner are completely opposite in their sounds but it’s why we should cherish both projects for what they are worth. If you’re looking to immerse yourself into lyrics and kick back, Born Sinner is your album, but if you’re ready to have a night out and flaunt your recent purchase at the mall, then it’s all hail Yeezus.
If both Cole and West sell over 100k in their first week of sales, next week will mark the first time two hip-hop albums have debuted with over 100k since 2010.
PHOTO CREDIT: Joshua Drakes