Cole World is back in action.
Since KOD arrived in 2018, rumors have persisted around J. Cole‘s next projects: The Off-Season and The Fall Off. The former being a continuation of his basketball-themed mixtapes – The Come Up (2007), The Warm Up (2009), and Friday Night Lights (2010) – while, The Fall Off is assumed to be Cole’s final studio album.
In the meantime, though, Cole would pivot and release Revenge Of The Dreamers III, a massive compilation project featuring his Dreamville stable of talent: Bas, Cozz, Omen, Lute, Ari Lennox, EarthGang, and J.I.D. The album would go Platinum — with features, somewhat breaking Cole’s streak of chart-topping and self-produced solo efforts — and garner Grammy nominations for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance.
With Cole apparently leaning closer and closer to (possibly) calling it a career, he would announce that The Off-Season would arrive just in time for the warmer months of 2021. Now, following a blitzkrieg of promotion that included the Applying Pressure documentary, becoming the first solo musician to cover SLAM Magazine, a stint with Rwanda’s Basketball Africa League team, and absolutely demolishing his LA Leakers freestyle, Cole has released the highly-anticipated album.
“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,” Cole says. “Just like in basketball, what you see him do in the court, that shit 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 shit really happens, where the pain happens, the pushing yourself to uncomfortable limits.”
“It represents the practice, the training, the drills, the intensity, the craft. It represents pushing yourself,” he continues. “Even if all of the songs and the verses that were made during that time period can’t make The Off-Season, the project still embodies all of them. Once you get to the season, it’s too late to get better. You’ll get better naturally, but what you know is what you know. You’re getting that shit off in the offseason. So that’s really what it represents. It represents the time spent getting better and pushing.”
Altogether, The Off-Season sports features from 21 Savage, Morray (both on “My Life”), Lil Baby (“Pride Is The Devil”), and Bas (“Let Go My Hand” & “Hunger On The Hillside”).
Stream The Off Season in its entirety, below.