Opinion: Kanye’s 'Yeezus' And J. Cole’s 'Born Sinner' Separate The Almighty From The Lesser

Yeezus and Born Sinner address religion in vastly different ways

On June 18, 2013, the music world received the Word.

Fayettnam's rap torchbearer J. Cole and hip-hop’s most boisterous and tortured demigod Kanye West chose the same day to pluck on spiritual heartstrings, yet they have two totally different messages to deliver. In many ways 'Ye and Cole—and their competing albums Yeezus and Born Sinner, respectively—are on opposite sides of the sanctuary.

Kanye West's Yeezus is 10 tracks of wrath, indulgence and retribution. Production help from Daft Punk, Mike Dean, No I.D., Travi$ Scott and others give tracks like “On Sight” and “Bound 2” some bounce, but there’s a struggle to find the common place between the man raging into the mic and the millions of us—some eagerly, some hesitantly—pressing play.

Yeezus’ most blasphemous title, “I Am A God,” finds Kanye spitting orders to his servants over a pulsing, demonized beat, while claiming he's the “only rapper compared to Michael.” It's oxymoronic in that he acknowledges that God's is an all-powerful being, but then there's the King of Pop. “I know He's the most high,” he raps confidently, “but I am a close high.”

It's a drastic difference from the idol worship from the six-foot-some-odd self-proclaimed born sinner kneeling on the other side of the altar. On his sophomore LP, J. Cole, the everlasting voice box for the underdog, uses 16 tracks to ’fess up to his vices, relish in his triumphs, battle demons and pay homage to the greats who’ve lit his path.

“Long live the idols, may they never be your rivals/Pac was like Jesus, Nas wrote the Bible,” he spits on “Let Nas Down,” an apology of sorts for pandering to pressures for a gimmicky single.

Jermaine's latest effort is rooted in moody music; gloomy and sunny instrumentals are stitched together by the sopranos, altos and tenors of a Sunday choir. The beats characterize Born Sinner’s heaven-and-hell aesthetic. Lyrically, he questions the purity of humanity (“Runaway”), admits that even the righteous cave in to temptation (“She Knows”), embraces his imperfections (“Crooked Smile”) and leaves his heart at the altar during the album's benediction (“Born Sinner”). He’s a flawed man recognizing and reconciling with his own faults. He’s still figuring things out.

Stardom has served Cole well and for a hefty portion of the album, he’s trying to find his way out of the Bible's forbidden garden ("LAnd of the Snakes," "Forbidden Fruit") where he “took a lil’ sip” of the "apple juice falling from her lips." In this same grassy oasis—and without a trace of regret—Yeezy is firmly planted on his throne, filling his own goblet with cider. While it may seem that Yeezus has it all—from supernatural sex (“[The] pussy had me floating”) to Maybach keys to his (damn) croissants—his soul has gone M.I.A. You can even hear it in the industrial beats ("Bound 2" is the lone chipmunk sample on here). Save for moments of vulnerability like the relationship-mourning "Guilt Trip" and "Blood On The Leaves," on Yeezus Kanye seems lost in his own smog of omnipotence. Meanwhile for J. Cole, by album's end, he's found himself.

Two gifted wordsmiths. Two varying relationships with the concept of higher power. Born Sinner shows us a man who is "of the people, not above but equal," while Yeezus hammers into our ears all the reasons why he's above us. —Stacy-Ann Ellis

From the Web

More on Vibe

Jeff Spicer

Lizzo Sued For Defamation By Postmates Driver She Accused Of Stealing Her Food

A former Postmates delivery driver is suing Lizzo for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, two months after the “Truth Hurts” singer put her on blast over a food delivery mix-up.

According to TMZ, Tiffany Wells claims that she received threats, fears for her safety and has been battling stress and anxiety since the incident. Wells claims that while she no longer works for Postdates she remains subject to being humiliated and ridiculed.

In September, Lizzo blasted Wells on Twitter when her food delivery never showed up to her Boston hotel. She tweeted out a photo of Wells and accused her of stealing the food. “She lucky I don’t fight no more,” Lizzo joked.

As it turns out, Wells was actually in the hotel but left because she couldn’t get a hold of Lizzo. Postmates delivery drivers are allowed to leave a location if they can’t get in touch with the customer within a certain amount of time.

Lizzo received backlash for publicly shaming Wells. She later deleted the tweet and apologized. “I apologize for putting that girl on blast. I understand that I have a large following and that there were so many variables that could’ve put her in danger,” she tweeted at the time. “Imma [sic] really be more responsible with my use of social media and check my petty and my pride at the door.”

Continue Reading
Nicholas Hunt

Lil Nas X Debuts On Forbes’ List Of Top-Earning Country Music Acts

It’s been a good year for Lil Nas X. The 20-year-old’s record breaking “Old Town Road” single helped him make it on the Forbes list of Top Earning Country Acts of 2019.

With an estimated $14 million in income (before taxes), Nas X debuted at No. 18 on the list ahead of Miranda Lambart, Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flats. Country star Luke Bryan topped the list with $42.5 million followed by Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney rounding out the Top 5.

Aside from being the youngest on the roster, Nas X is the only black artist and the only openly gay artist to make the Forbes’ Country Music list.

With a record 19 weeks on the Billboard singles charts, “Old Town Road”  became the longest No. 1 single in history and the first single to earn a diamond certification from the Recording Academy while simultaneously topping the charts.

Earlier in the week, the Atlanta native made history with his win at the CMA Awards and was recently spotlighted in TIME magazine's Next 100 list of influencers.

Continue Reading
Mike Coppola

Naturi Naughton Responds To 50 Cent Targeting Her On Social Media

Naturi Naughton refuses to let 50 Cent get her “out of character.” A week after he apologized for making fun of her hair on social media, 50 Cent posted yet another meme taunting Naughton on Twitter on Wednesday (Nov. 13).

The G-Unit honcho, whose Instagram account was suspended earlier that day, tweeted a meme of Naughton which featured a photo taken during the Power season six mid-season finale screening in New York last month. The tweet went viral but most of the comments were blasting 50 for repeatedly targeting Naughton.

You're disgusting for this.

— peaches (@peaches07) November 13, 2019

Idk who hurt you so deeply that you continue to be this childish and bitter but sir PLEASE seek help. It's never too late to get therapy mama.

— hp lovecraft named his cat... (@mystorimachinee) November 13, 2019

She already said she wasnt. The first time he could say he thought it was all in fun. This time he KNOWS he is hurting her feelings.

— 🧞‍♀️ (@ebonymystique) November 13, 2019


— 🤘🏾HannaAnn🤘🏾 (@hannapauses) November 14, 2019

Naughton hit back on social media on Thursday (Nov. 14). “There’s so much I wanna say but…You don’t have an Instagram account so why waste my characters or come out of my CHARACTER,” she wrote on Instagram next to a tweet that read, “Did we have a fight and I not know about it?”

Though 50 Cent has a reputation for social media bullying, many felt that he crossed the line with Naughton, given the power dynamic. As executive producer of Power, the Queens native is Naughton’s boss. He has yet to publicly apologize again but let’s hope that the 46-year-old rapper is done bothering Naughton.

Read her full response below.


View this post on Instagram


😔There’s so much I wanna say but... You don’t even have an Instagram account so... 🤷🏾‍♀️ why waste my characters or come out of my CHARACTER! But do pick up a copy of my upcoming book: #whatNOTtoDoWhenYoureABoss 🤦🏾‍♀️ #ImNotACharacter #IAmARealPerson #IAmAWoman #IAmABlackWoman

A post shared by Naturi Naughton (@naturi4real) on Nov 14, 2019 at 9:40pm PST

Continue Reading

Top Stories