A track by track review of J. Cole’s new album ‘The Off-Season’


Except for his features on Dreamville’s collaborative album in 2019s ROTD (Revenge of the dreamers), It’s been 3 years since the North Carolina hitmaker dropped a studio album. Suffice to say for the 1-hour impactful album experience ‘The off-season’ delivers, It was worth the wait!

  • 95 south: From the first few seconds of this track, J.cole caresses his ego and achievements. Yet, despite all the plates of platinum and awards his craft has earned, J.cole is not willing to back down. 

I get up, dust my clothes off, sleep is the cousin of death

And he uses the next 14 tracks to clarify that!

  • Amari: J. Cole flaunts his high-end rap skills as he layers his lines before they land on the catchy beat. His brilliant wordplay and mastered tongue control make it look like a walk in the park. But when you try to rap along. You won’t catch up!
  • My Life: The story behind the story would have been the perfect title of this album’s third track. J.cole reminisces on his early days growing up in the hood and the impact of drugs in his community.

Starting from his warnings in 2018’s KOD, J.coles condemnation of drug abuse and the mental impact on people(black people) has been clear.

Featuring 21savage and rising singer Morray ‘My Life’ takes us through the rappers stories before fame.

Produced by J.cole himself, the tempo of the beat is reduced so their touching verses can be heard clearly and if you listen closely, You’d hear a story infused with artistic beauty and bone sorrow.

  • Applying pressure: Although it may not totally be in the public eye, J.cole draws criticisms from media critics and fellow rappers (No names mentioned)

In ‘Applying pressure’ a 3-minute freestyle track; with witty humour and sarcasm he silences the ‘naysayers’ who disrespect his legacy.

  • Punching the clock: Opening this track is 6x all-star NBA basketballer Damian Lillard speaking about hard work and consistency which ‘punching the clock’ means as an idiomatic expression. 

At age 26 J.cole still puts in the hard work in his music and his new position in the African basketball league.

  • 100 mil: True J.cole fans recognise this tune as 2018s summer hit ‘Middle child’. Similar to ‘middle child’ where he talks about his position in the rap game. In 100 mil, he talks about his position in his life and a new career. In between verses, basketball whistles are blown, which urges him to keep going! he hasn’t gotten to his prime in rap and basketball.
  • Pride is the devil: All this while, fans were clamouring for a J.cole and Kendrick Lamar collab. But a J.cole and Lil baby collab is what we got. And it was hard!
  • Let go my hand:Ignorance is bliss and innocence is just ignorance before it’s introduced to currency and clips’

J.cole drops his ego and displays vulnerability as he talks about his son, writers’ block, and spirituality. A 5 seconds prayer is rendered that’ll make one who has been listening religiously since the opening track say Amen.

  • Interlude: Interlude is a little sip of every juice this album entails. Thought-provoking verses, catchy tunes and brilliant lyricism.

No wonder Nipsey Hustle (of blessed memory) trended on Twitter after this song dropped. Why? Well, it is because of a line in this promotional single.

‘Christ went to heaven age thirty-three

  • The Climb Back: Opening as a therapy session. J.cole spends five minutes answering an internal question. One would expect a simple yes or no answer but with J.cole, nothing is that simple.
  • Close: In this track, J.cole isn’t the successful rapper we know him for. In ‘Close’, J.cole dishes on his early days of being a rapper. His early days of choosing this career path other than the destructive path a close friend of his chose. 

For the creatives! If you feel disappointed or pessimistic about your creative journey then this song is for you.

  • Hunger on the hillside: Overall the song ‘Hunger On Hillside’ is definitely a highlight during Off-Season. From the production to Cole’s vulnerability the track proves J.Cole is in a race with himself. 

‘If I quit now, then I’m dead wrong’

He says casually yet with solid affirmation! The North Carolina MC is undeniably one of the best rappers in hip-hop of our time. Even though that is an undisputed fact,

‘The off-season’ is available for streaming across all music platforms.

Have you heard it? Which song is your favourite from The off-season?

Mine is Applying Pressure.

Like this review? Stick around for more music and film content.

Film & Music Critic. Aspiring Author and Filmmaker who’s studying Fisheries & Aquatic Biology in College,

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.


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