For the past six years, J. Cole has used basketball as a metaphor for his efforts to break into the Rap game.

No longer, however, as the Roc Nation emcee’s Born Sinner album signals the first project since 2007’s The Come Up to draw the comparison between the Rap and basketball.

“It was just time for something new. I wouldn’t have minded doing it again but I felt that I closed that story,” explained Cole to MTV. “That metaphor and that storyline had really ended. Metaphorically I was just a kid working to get on this basketball team, got cut — that was The Come Up, then The Warm Up was like, alright I made the team, I’m on the team, now what? I’m not in the game, I’ll just ride the end of the bench. Then Friday Night Lights was like ‘come on man, you’re still not gonna put me in the game? What I gotta do? Here, I’m gonna kill it in practice.’ “

Cole explained that his studio debut concluded the story. “Sideline Story was like, ‘Wow, I really am starting now,’ and I feel like I ended that chapter when it’s all said and done. Plus, this new theme is really more reflective of where I’m at and where I’ve been at for the past two years, so it was just perfect to move on.”

Still, J. Cole didn’t want to create any misconceptions about his next project. “It’s not necessarily a church theme and it’s not really about church,” he explained. “I like my album themes to be metaphors because it gives me the freedom to speak about something else that’s going on in my life, so the Born Sinner thing is not about church, it’s not even about religion. It’s using that as canvas to get other messages across and that’s what the album will be.”

Watch the interview below:

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