J Cole has spent the “Off Season” between the time he dropped his last album, “KOD” back in 2018 until now perfecting his already immaculate craft. During this period of time, Cole has also become a father of two – where he has been learning the fine art of balancing both his career and father-hood simultaneously.
The album title, “The Off -Season” has multiple layers of symbolism that reflect where J Cole’s mentality and focus is at this time. Earlier this month, it was revealed that he had joined the Basketball Africa’s League’s (Rwanda Patrioits BBC). Before Cole ever wanted to be a professional MC, his dream was to be a pro-basketball star.
Cole’s has un-matched work ethic due to his athletic background, in which he learned that practicing your craft is the ultimate key to success. J Cole dropped a documentary as he usually does, to inform fans as to what his direction and intention was behind the album. He mentions in the short film that he began to run drills and enforce a more tight schedule when it came to him making his dreams a reality.
Every morning he would make himself write a verse, make a beat, and rap – over and over, just like throwing the ball until you can shoot a three-pointer in your sleep. This album is the most aggressive and hungry I have seen J Cole since “2014 Forest Hills Drive.” In the documentary, Cole declares comfort as the enemy. During his off season, luxury and complacency became his lifestyle as opposed to applying pressure.
He often makes conceptual albums, in which there is a larger theme or message at hand that he is trying to give to society. Cole often will inhabit different characters and personas as he did on “KOD.” Yet, on “The Off – Season” he spits about his rise and grind, telling his story only as it unfolds before him.
Cole is at war on this album, constantly pitting his old and present self up against each other – as the future for him is clouded with the fear of regret. This is the first album Cole has allowed room for features. He doesn’t want to regret not working with anyone after all the time and connections he has formed in this game.
The album features 21 Savage, Bas, Lil Baby, 6LACK, Morray, and Bas. Not only is Cole coming at the game with the same energy and tenacity as a freshman – he is also giving himself the long awaited credit that he deserves.
On track “1 0 0. m i l’ featuring Bas, He raps “This game is like follow the leader, if you looking closely enough, then you’ll see that I led. The moves that I made, the people I fed, the evil I ducked. They minds is too feeble, they lean on they crutch. I’m bleeding from fighting my demons head up. When I get defeated, believe I get up.”
The only thing that Cole is boasting about is his resilience when it came to creating his legacy. The roadblocks set before him were more like death traps – overcoming gun violence, police brutality, and addiction running through his blood-line.
On track, “my . l i f e” featuring 21 Savage and Morray, Cole raps, “I’m just a product of poverty, full of narcotics to profit off quickly. My family tree got a history of users that struggle with demons, not really the hustler instincts. Therefore, often, my pockets was empty.”
Cole’s ability to keep chasing a dream that he has already captured is not as easy as he makes it look. He spoke in his documentary on his writing process, stressing one of the worst things you can do is wait for inspiration to strike. You may be waiting for something that will never come and the way you make use of the time you possess is another message that Cole is stressing on the album. However, giving this album a listen is without a doubt worth your time.