It’s been a couple of years since the Hip-Hop world heard from their favorite North Carolina son J. Cole. He has dropped a few teaser singles here and there but no major releases. Recently, he ended this hiatus and graced the masses with his sixth studio project aptly titled The Off-Season. The album’s release was accompanied by a documentary and a brief promotional stint via the LP’s “Interlude” track. Additionally, the twelve-track collective see’s the Fayetteville emcee embracing collaborations with guest appearances by the likes of: 21 Savage, Lil Baby, 6lack, Morray, and Bas.
“95 South” kicks things off with a bit of nostalgia and an undeniable energy. There is a word or two from veteran rapper Cam’ron and a Mario Brother’s reference that instantly became a fan favorite quotable. Pair all of that with the crunk ending courtesy of a snippet from Lil Jon and The East Side Boyz and a buzzing tone is set for the rest of the album. Another standout track early on is “My Life” featuring 21 Savage and Morray. The trio take listeners through their road to success and give a glimpse of the possibility of what their fates would be like if their talents hadn’t taken off. 21 really thrives on this record. Debates were even sparked as to whether or not he outshined his North Carolina peer. The momentum is definitely still going strong at this point.
About midway through Cole’s musical exercise to become his best self, we are hit with “Pride Is The Devil.” The track features Lil Baby and though not an official single, it has gained popularity amongst the people. The sleek instrumental gives way to a charismatic vibe that is complimented by a simple yet memorable hook. The content sees the two emcees speak on their personal dealings with one of the seven deadly sins as well as their struggles not to succumb to it’s grip. The production starts to slightly lose steam around this point, but the written is still hitting.
Promo single “Interlude” heads up the tail end of The Off-Season. The single runs on the shorter side but it gets the job done. Cole utilizes an infectious flow as he expands on a wide range of topics from street violence to his front runner status in the rap game, to religion, and more. Set to a groovy instrumental with soulful accents, the song serves well as a sample that leaves you wanting more from Cole. Great choice as one of the leading tracks.
The off season is typically the time for athletes to work on improving their crafts so that they come back stronger for the next season. J. Cole nails that concept with this album for sure. Now he’s just gotta work on his actual basketball game (lol).