J .ColeNorth Carolina rapper J. Cole’s debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, may have debuted at number one on the Billboard charts in 2011, eventually shifting over 600,000 copies in the process. But still, few expected the 28-year-old to have the audacity to release follow-up Born Sinner on the same day as the most hotly-anticipated hip-hop record of the year, Kanye West’s Yeezus. Featuring a plethora of conscience-wrestling meditations on money, monogamy and musical integrity, including an unexpectedly humble apology to his idol Nas, its 16 tracks aren’t always as self-aggrandising as you might expect. But there are still plenty of occasions when his sky-high confidence could rival that of his temporary chart nemesis. Here’s a look at five of the LP’s best boasts.


J. ColeCole wastes little time in warning his rivals that they can’t measure up to his talents on this dramatic choir-backed opener which has the gall to pay tribute to the impact Tupac had on his career whilst simultaneously sampling Biggie. Comparing himself to both Shakur and Roc Nation label boss Jay-Z, Cole also pinpoints his ability to flit between the mainstream and the underground with ease before mocking the YouTube MCs who aren’t even fit to lick his favored Air Jordan XI sneakers: [LISTEN]

Sometimes I brag like Hov’, sometimes I’m real like Pac
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 tryna steal my spot
You n*ggas famous on the internet, I’m real life hot

Power Trip

J. ColeEven when Cole veers into vaguely romantic territory, he can’t quite resist the temptation to brag about his luck with the ladies. An otherwise heartfelt love letter to the girl that he became uncharacteristically bashful around before his rise to fame, this Miguel collaboration also sees him return to reclaim the previously unforgiving hometown club scene that is now apparently littered with women completely bereft at the fact they missed out on being another notch on his bedpost: [LISTEN]

Back home I’m grown now and this city’s my throne now
The same clubs I used to get tossed out
Life got crisscrossed, totally crossed out
Cause now I’m in this bitch and I’m totally bossed out
Old chicks cryin’ cause they know that they lost out

She Knows

J. ColeJoined by Dirty Projectors vocalist Amber Coffman for one of the record’s many ruminations on infidelity, Cole has little doubt that all the “good Southern bad hoes” in the club know exactly just how much of a superstar he is. Indeed, in a typically egotistical defence that only A-list rappers could even contemplate getting away with, Cole claims that by possessing such a Black Star-meets-Martin Luther King vibe, he’s utterly powerless to avoid succumbing to all the female temptation that comes his way: [LISTEN]

Now I’m sure you done heard about me

A black star, Mos Def, Kweli

Good southern bad hoes try me, they try me
This is Martin Luther King in the club

Forbidden Fruit

J. ColeDespite the fact that he’d only released a couple of mix-tapes when he shared the front cover of XXL magazine as part of their annual freshman issue back in 2010, Cole claims he was already so legendary that he deserved to have such an honor all to himself. Fader also gets it in the neck for failing to recognize his self-appointed genius, while a desire to show the world he’s a man is also stated as the main reason for moving the record’s release date to compete with Kanye: [LISTEN]

How many records do a nigga gotta sell
Just to get the cover of the double XL or Fader, fuck a magazine hater
When I say that I’m the greatest I ain’t talking about later
I’ma drop the album the same day as Kanye
Just to show the boys the man now like Wanyá
And I don’t mean no disrespect, I praise legends

Ain’t That Some Shit (Interlude)

J. ColeHaving already compared himself to one African-American political icon, Cole also now claims that he’s treated like President Barack Obama whenever he returns from his globe-conquering duties to grace his former hood with his presence. Not only will Cole treat the mothers of Fayetteville with the utmost respect, he’ll also find the time in his itinerary to “snatch” all the “bitches” from every hater who ever questioned his loyalty to his hometown: [LISTEN]

Say I can’t come to the hood, true lie
See I would but I’m out in Dubai
When I get back I’mma roll through that
Snatch yo bitch give yo niggas dap
The hood gon’ ballistic, Cole was here and you missed it
That nigga walk like Obama man
Shake yo momma’s hand and kissed it