J. Cole Takes His Game To Another Level This “Off-Season”

Cole World! Real Cole WORLD!

Jermaine dropped off his 6th studio album ‘The Off-Season’ and the timing couldn’t have been any better! Before we talk about this album, I want to go ahead and shed some light on ‘The Off-Season’ rollout. Cole teased us last July with “T H E. C L I M B. B A C K” and “Lion King on Ice.” These two tracks were received extremely well and that was when the heavy anticipation for this album really began. Then it fizzled out.

Over the course of the last two weeks till the album released, there were a few social media posts of Cole being “locked in”  wrapping up and finishing the album. Then BOOM! Cole drops the interlude, a short documentary and then in the middle of the release week Cole makes a surprise appearance on LA Leakers and delivers a 5 minute freestyle on some of hip hop’s most classic beats in “93 til Infinity” and “Still Tippin.”

 As big as an artist that J. Cole is, he can drop whenever he wants and he’ll do numbers. Folks will simply stop whatever they are doing to listen to “that new Cole.”  Cole restored that feeling of a REAL rollout, especially with that damn Leakers Freestyle. The Elite don’t really pop up to radio shows and rap anymore! It’s kind of become something for those who are newer acts that have something to prove.

So here we are, “The Off-Season” where Cole really had my expectations set “Above the Rim” before listening to this album. Let’s get into it.

The Off-Season!

I have a quick aggressive HOT TAKE. This album is a Top 2 Cole Project and it may not be #2 for long. There’s just so much I could talk about with this release but, I told myself I wouldn’t write anymore1000 word reviews so I’ll try to be brief and very specific.

The album kicked off with Killa Cam talking to us and introducing the album. Man I wish Cam had a verse on “95 south.” It literally would have set the world on fire. Cole had us covered though. On here we find the often humble MC fired up, “talking his shit,” and reminding us “WHAT TYPE OF TIME HE IS ON.” “This shit too easy for me now/ N***a, Cole been goin’ plat’ since back when CDs was around/ What you sold, I tripled that, I can’t believe these fuckin’ clowns.” This track set the tone for the whole album.

On stand out tracks such as “my life,” “applying pressure,” “punchin the clock,” “100 Mil,” and “PRIDE IS THE DEVIL,” Cole displayed a form that we arguably haven’t seen ever or at least in sometime from him. Cole deliveries in a way where those most critical of him can’t say he makes sleepy raps or whatever bullshit @johnhatescole786432 is saying in the YouTube and reddit comments. The lyricism, delivery and wordplay accompanied by this new found energy was a recipe for success.  

Okay, let’s talk production and features now. Cole finally took that gamble to work with a lot of different producers and it paid off. I loved hearing that mix of old school backpack rap and soulful instrumentals.  

The hidden features trick WORKED. I really thought ‘The Off-Season’ was going to be another Cole achievement of going platinum with no features! I could honestly do a whole separate post on the features on this album. On here Lil Baby continues to show us he can legit rap with anyone and hold his own and he’s clearly one of the best out. I loved him and Cole on “PRIDE IS THE DEVIL.” On “my life,”  21 savage continuously shows his growth and that he and Cole simply can’t miss. Morray’s vocals also complimented the two perfectly on this track as well. Bas and 6lack also should just be featured on Cole projects regularly.  

‘The Off-Season’ felt like a mixtape and in a good way at that. I feel like Cole had fun with this all as he put the rap game on notice. The album is currently projected to do 310K first week sales with every track currently in the Billboard Top 40. At the end of “applying pressure,” Cole rants “That’s why I gotta flex sometimes, ’cause n****s just try to act like you just not that motherfuckin’ n***a.”

‘The Off-Season’ is Cole’s flex. Aubrey & Kendrick, it’s y’all’s move… 

GRADE: A

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