That’s My Jam: MJ Cole – Sincere

That’s My Jam is a weekly feature where one person from the Selective Hearing staff goes to wax poetic about music that is pivotal to their musical tastes. Whether that would be an album, a song, or anything in-between. We all had to start somewhere.

MJ Cole Sincere Album Art

Release Date: April 17, 2001

Track Listing

  1. Introduction
  2. Tired Games
  3. Attitude
  4. Bandalero Desperado
  5. MJ FM Interlude
  6. Crazy Love
  7. You’re Mine
  8. Sanctuary
  9. I See
  10. Sincere (Re-Cue’d)
  11. Strung Out
  12. Rough Out Here
  13. Slum King
  14. Radio Interlude
  15. Hold On To Me
  16. Free My Mind


MJ Cole (real name Mark Coleman) is a classically trained musician who is considered one of the innovators of the UK 2 Step genre. Sincere is his debut album, and it was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in 2000.

That is some pretty high praise, isn’t it? And it’s well deserved too. Taking a more soulful and mainstream-friendly approach, the productions on this album are not as deep and dirty as his early days in the world of Drum and Bass.

Many of the tracks have a strong R&B feel thanks to the vocals of Elisabeth Troy, Guy S’Mone and Concept Noir. The sound bed on which these artists sing over feature Cole’s signature staccato string stabs, lush melodies and tight beats.

Crazy Love, Rough Out Here, Hold On To Me, and Free My Mind are great examples of the soulful side of 2 Step. Some may find the singing a little over the top, especially in the preachy, gospel-tinged Rough Out Here.

But if you compare to the vocals on this album to today’s diva vocal gymnastics, they’re pretty subdued in comparison. And really, what’s wrong with a bit of church-flavored soul?

For those looking for a bit more of the rough and tough 2 Step sound, some tracks will help you get your fix. Those include Bandelero Desperado, Sanctuary, Sincere and Slum King.

These tracks will not be for the faint of heart. Many people complain that 2 Step songs all sound the same. I don’t think those people are listening and/or have a limited musical palette to draw upon so they can relate.

Here is a warning to those who dare venture into the above tracks. The songs that include guest raps by Danny Vicious may not exactly be pleasing to those who are not used to hearing one unload a verbal assault in a thick British accent.

Upon its initial release, many critics gave Sincere a real pasting, calling it a step backward in the development of UK Garage in favour of reaching the lowest common denominator. For others, this seminal work is used to introduce people to the world of 2 Step.

Well, the world as it was before the dark days of thuggery ruined it during its waning years.

Sincere was part of my education into the world of real and respectable dance music, and it was a gateway into what would eventually become my genre of choice as a DJ. So I greatly respect MJ Cole and what he has done on this album.

Funnily enough, Sincere is available to purchase digitally, and I cannot recommend it enough to those with open ears and minds to try it.

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