Love Letter To A Record: Jarryd James On J. Cole’s ‘Born Sinner’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become. 

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Jarryd James – J. Cole, Born Sinner (2013)

Every now and then I discover an album that I would consider a perfect album. Born Sinner is one of those. I had heard maybe one of the singles when it first came out, ‘Power Trip’ ft. Miguel, but didn’t fully soak up the whole album until a couple of years later. It was right around the time that I had started to spend a lot of time in the US, and perhaps that’s a big part of why it grabbed me so much; it kind of just made so much sense. As in, it’s one thing to listen to an American rap album from the distant shores of Australia, but another thing entirely to be hearing it in context, kind of like real-time in front of my eyes. I was listening to this album a lot while on tour buses, vans, planes, in hotel rooms, while riding in Ubers to various studios, and it was one of the first times music of this genre was paired with an experience that wasn’t just my own imagination, or what I had seen in movies or television.

I’ve always loved J. Cole’s production and beat choices, he tends to go down a much more musical path than a lot of other rappers and the beats often feel a bit more on the R&B side. Lyrically he is conversational which lends itself to the feelings of nostalgia that I get from this album. I found myself putting it on a lot, no matter where I was in the world, whenever I was feeling homesick or anxious. Sometimes music can make you feel like you’re home like that. Don’t know if that makes sense. But as exhilarating as touring can be, sometimes the lack of sleep and the back to back post-show sessions catch up on you and you need to escape into your headphones to something familiar and warm.

‘Forbidden Fruit’ is one of my favourite tracks. It features Kendrick who is another of my favourite artists of all time, so that’s a no-brainer. It samples a song called ‘Mystic Brew’ by Ronnie Foster that was previously used by A Tribe Called Quest on ‘Electric Relaxation’ but in a much more sparse way.

Anyway, I’ve been a devout follower of all J. Cole releases ever since. I recommend you have a listen if you haven’t already.

Jarryd James’ new album ‘P.M.’ is out today. Listen or save here.

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