With his first album, J. Cole told us that nobody’s perfect, and on “Crooked Smile,” the newly released track from his upcoming Born Sinner LP, he partners with TLC to celebrate his own imperfections.
“A perfect smile is more appealing, but it’s funny how/ My sh– is crooked, look at how far I done got without it/ I keep my twisted grill, just to show the kids it’s real/ We ain’t picture perfect, but we worth the picture still,” Cole raps about his teeth over a summery piano beat.
For the song’s hook, Cole recruits T-Boz and Chilli of TLC, one of his favorite groups growing up. Just like TLC did on their 1999 Billboard chart-topper “Unpretty,” Cole chooses to uplift and give confidence to his listeners. On the track’s second verse, he toasts to the women who are constantly judged on a strict beauty standard. “You keep fallin’ victim ’cause you’re insecure/ And when I tell you that you’re beautiful, you can’t be sure/ ’Cause he don’t want you back and it got you askin’/ So all you see is what you lackin’ and not what you packin’,” he rhymes in a comforting tone.
On June 18, Cole will release Born Sinner. Originally he was slated to drop the album on June 25, but decided to move his date up a week to meet Kanye West’s upcoming Yeezus at retail. “I worked too hard to come a week later after Kanye West drops an amazing album,” Cole told Billboard on May 21. It’d be like, ’Oh and J.Cole dropped too, a week later.’ Nah. I’m going to go see him on that date. He’s the greatest. So it’s like, I’m a competitor by nature so it was instant, it wasn’t even a thought.”