Listened to it all the way through about five times now. No skippable songs imo. Forbidden Fruit and Crooked Smile looked better on paper, but I still really like both. Skits are actually really fitting... well used. Cole's production on this is also much, much better.
Concept of album is dope and is well executed. Still finds room for those really powerful social commentary tracks, even though this is a lot more personal than Sideline Story.
9/10 on my first listens. Production is a big step up, and the wordplay/lyrics are a bit better too. Compared to Sideline Story, more variety in his flows. Reminds me of the delivery change Drake made between Thank Me Later and Take Care, but it's different with Cole obviously. The album's more cohesive and has a feel to it as well... Sideline Story was just a collection of good tracks for the most part. This has a really consistent feeling to it.
Cole clearly had complete creative control with this. I don't know whether to credit Jay-Z with that or not, but it's a really good thing. Power Trip is a hit, but Cole doesn't sacrifice anything. Crooked Smile, and maybe 1-2 other songs could get good radio play too.