J. Cole told Billboard on the red carpet at the 2012 American Music Awards that he wanted to "change the conversation" in mainstream hip-hop with the release of the hard-hitting single "Miss America" last week. The lead track off his forthcoming sophomore album, "Born Sinner," is an admitted risk for the Roc Nation rapper, but one that he felt was necessary for the progression of his career.
AMAs 2012: Videos, Photos, Headlines
"We have a responsibility and a certain power that comes with making the music and playing the music, and that comes with a responsibility to keep things fresh, and not to fall into the mold of what's traditional," says Cole. "I have singles that fall into that [mold], but if I can use my power in some kind of way, I'm going to try to use it to shift culture just a little bit."
"Born Sinner" and its Jan. 28, 2013 release date were announced online earlier this month, although the follow-up to his 2011 debut "Cole World: The Sideline Story" may be hitting stores after that date, which doubles as the rapper's birthday. "In a perfect world, I'll shoot for January 28," says Cole, "but even when I released that, honestly I knew that was very far-fetched."
Part of the reason that "Born Sinner's" release date may well be pushed back is because of Cole's increased promotional muscle. The rapper mentions that he's eyeing different branding opportunities to coincide with the album, as well as a short film -- "something way more expansive than a music video," he claims -- that will begin shooting in December.
Whenever "Born Sinner" arrives (Cole predicts sometime early in 2013), the album will likely be a more serious effort than "Cole World," which debuted at No. 1 upon its release last year. The album will detail "the story of corruption -- corruption of an artist when commercial appeal is involved, or corruption of a relationship when temptation is involved, or corruption of a government when capitalism is involved. It's a lot of things. I don't want anybody to think it's so heavy, but it deals with those things."
Reporting by @ Keith_Caulfield in Los Angeles.