J. Cole and The Off-Season
Jermaine Cole otherwise known by his stage name, J. Cole, dropped his sixth studio album “The Off-Season” this past Friday, a project that he has hinted about dropping as far back as 2018, the same year he dropped his fifth studio album, “KOD”. The hotly anticipated album runs a smooth thirty-nine minutes and actually features artists such as 21 Savage, Lil Baby, Bas and 6LACK which impressively makes “The Off-Season” the first J. Cole album to have features since 2013’s “Born Sinner”. The name of the album is derived as a play on the sports term “off-season” which is a period of time that a sports athlete is not actively playing a sport but is usually training and preparing for the next upcoming season. Indeed when asked in a 2021 SLAM Magazine interview about what “The Off-Season” represented, J. Cole said,” The Off-Season symbolizes the work that it takes to get to the highest height. The Off-Season represents the many hours and months and years it took to get to top form… the offseason is where the magic really happens”. In that sense “The Off-Season” plays as an inspirational album that showcases how unwavering perseverance, faith, self-reliance and the need to continually achieve excellence in all things has allowed J. Cole to reach the point in his life now.
Most songs on the album reflect on the past that J. Cole experience and the struggle and grind that he endured and still endures through today to get to where he’s at. In the 3rd track, “m y . l i f e” J. Cole even raps that he is, “a product of poverty” noting the poverty he endured growing up and how experiencing that gave him the perspective and personality that he has now. This is the angle that J. Cole takes throughout the entire album, that he is not a victim of his past, but rather he has reached a higher level of knowledge and most importantly perspective on life in general due to his past. No where on the album does he do this the best than on the songs “a p p l y i n g . p r e s s u r e” and “t h e . c l i m b . b a c k.”
Sticking true to the sports themed derived name of the album, the tracks “9 5 . s o u t h” and “a m a r i” feature sports themed raps everything from Steph Curry to Madison Square Garden to Wrigley Field. The shortest and most potent song (in my opinion) on the album “p u n c h i n ‘ . t h e . c l o c k” actually features a sample of the post game interview by NBA star Dame Lillard right after he had a 61-point game and another sample of a different interview by Lillard after he hit a walk-off three against the Oklahoma City Thunder back in the 2019 NBA playoffs.
J. Cole has always been a the kind of artist whose music has always had deeper subliminal messages and if you are a hardcore J. Cole fan, which I will admit I am not, there is much to unpack out of the thirty-nine minute album that Cole has dropped. While I kept listening to the album I couldn’t help but think that what if this is the beginning of an album plot arc? That J. Cole might drop more music this year after “The Off-Season” is over? It is no coincidence that “The Off-Season” drops the weekend that J. Cole plays in his debut in the African Basketball League. Only time will answer this question. I would not be surprised if we found ourselves graced with another serving of music by J. Cole before 2021’s end.
Christian’s Album Score: 3.7/5.0
Christian’s Top 3 songs:
- p u n c h i n ‘ . t h e . c l o c k
- a p p l y i n g . p r e s s u r e
- l e t . g o . m y . h a n d