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J. Cole is Back Like He Never Left with ‘The Off-Season’

The Real is back, the Ville is back, Hollywooders! J. Cole has released his much anticipated sixth studio album and, once again, he did not disappoint. 

Ever since May 4, when J. Cole announced the release date of The Off-Season, fans have analyzed his every move in anticipation of new music. And J. Cole gave us plenty to freak out about in the past 10 days. 

First, he surprisingly dropped “i n t e r l u d e,” the lead single from The Off-Season. This was big because ever since his 2014 album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the North Carolina rapper rarely drops singles before his albums. J. Cole explained on social media that he was just too excited about all the new music to not give his fans a sneak peek. 

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Despite its short runtime, “i n t e r l u d e” was phenomenal. Last week our very own Jaime Hutkin wrote about the new J. Cole track. Check out her reaction here

J. Cole follows up “i n t e r l u d e” hype with a documentary

Accompanying documentaries have become staples in J. Cole’s album release strategy. In 2017, the rapper released J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only on HBO just months after dropping his fourth studio album. 

Additionally, to promote his 2019 magnum opus compilation album Revenge of the Dreamers III, J. Cole released Dreamville Presents: Revenge. The 30-minute documentary debuted on YouTube just three days before the album hit streaming platforms. 

Earlier this week, J. Cole kept up the tradition by releasing Applying Pressure: The Off-Season on YouTube. The documentary opens with the rapper explaining the meaning of the album’s title to 21 Savage. Afterward, the 12-minute doc follows J. Cole in an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album. 

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Playing professional basketball, freestyle and tracklist

The same day as the Apply Pressure: The Off-Season release, it was announced that J. Cole would be playing professional basketball in the newly formed Basketball Africa League. J. Cole has always been vocal about his dream to play basketball. The Off-Season’s cover art is one of many J. Cole covers that feature basketball references. Recently, the rapper spoke with Slam about the connection between basketball and the rap game saying:

“The Off-Season represents the many hours and months and years it took to get to top form. Just like in basketball, what you see him do in the court, that shi*t was worked on in the summertime. So for an athlete, if they take their career seriously and if they really got high goals and want to chase them, the offseason is where the magic really happens, where the ugly sh*t really happens, where the pain happens, the pushing yourself to uncomfortable limits.”

A later appearance on Los Angeles’ Power 106 radio show got fans even more hype for The Off-Season. J. Cole didn’t hold back as he flowed over “93 Til Infinity” and “Still Trippin.” 

Lastly, hours before the album was going to drop, J. Cole revealed the tracklist. 

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It appeared as if the rapper was once again going to go triple platinum with no features and immediately Twitter reacted. 

J. Cole collaborates on The Off-Season

J. Cole surprised the world when the first voice heard on his album was indeed a feature. “95. south’s” spoken word intro features Cam’ron introducing the album as well as providing narration throughout the rest of the song. The song is a shift from J. Cole’s typical style with the Cam’ron feature and Lil Jon outro sparking resemblance to many 2000s mixtapes that include narrations from DJs. 

Fans were surprised once again when 21 Savage popped up with a full verse on “my. life.” As I mentioned previously, 21 Savage appeared in the promotional Apply Pressure: The Off-Season documentary. However, his guest verse was still a surprise to listeners. The two rappers previously collabed on 21 Savage’s 2018 track “a lot,” which went on to win the Grammy for Best Rap Song. 

Ever since his epic 2018 feature run, J. Cole has been more open to collaborating with other artists. This is apparent by the numerous features on The Off-Season as well as the sample in “pride. is. the. devil.” The seventh track on the album heavily samples Amine’s 2020 hit “Can’t Decide” off of Limbo. Hopefully with J. Cole and Lil Baby rapping over the Amine sample fans will explore more of Amine’s music. 

J. Cole fans react to The Off-Season

There are few artists that can make the world stop and listen anytime they release music and J. Cole is one of them. Check out some of the best reactions from Twitter below. 

Have you listened to The Off-Season yet? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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