Written By: Jewels Alexandria
(5 Minute Read)
You must go back to The Come Up. The hunger, the drive and passion before the fame. Fourteen years later and its still all there. Difference is, he is a grown man now and he has never gotten too comfortable. The music is no longer about teenage, preadolescent thoughts, but it is still the same intensity he had at twenty-one. His music grows with life’s lessons. In his interviews, freestyles, and most recent documentary he speaks on complacency. Which can hit home for many of us if digested correctly. Cole teaches hard work and dedication even after you get it. The effects of discipline and what having that mind set can really do for you. If that is not the teachings of our great leaders before us then I don't know what is.
The Off-Season is the continued growth and grind that Cole has for Hip Hop. Not just for Hip-Hop but also for those around him and those who are fans of his. He understands his role has a public figure and does his best to use his platform in a positive way. Even through his shit talking he is preaching and covers every topic you can imagine.
Production includes. J. Cole himself on most tracks but also other great music industry producers. Timberland, T-Minus, Boi-1da plus many more. He also gave you what many has been asking for, features. Each track is different sounding from the next and I am sure most can appreciate that. Samples include Brief Encounter and even a Styles P sample on the track My Life featuring 21 Savage and Fayetteville's own, Morray.
The first half of the album though, Cole spends a lot of his time focusing on his skills. “Kill ‘em on a song, walk up out the booth, do the Westbrook rock-a-baby.” Or the now famous line, “I be stayin’ out the way, but if the beef do come around, could put a M right on yo head, you Luigi brother now.” But on the track Applying Pressure, Cole is doing just that. With verses like, “These n****s whips hard, behind closed doors, can’t pay the lease. . . instead of cappin’, why don’t you talk about bein’ a broke rapper?” I think he made a few rappers shake in their boots, like “is he talking about me?” But the last few tracks, Cole softens it up a bit. Let Go My Hand, Cole raps in a way similar to Eminem. The softness in his voice is that of talking to his son. Teaching him to not get caught up with the ways of the world and stay true to yourself. The song Close, I wish Jay-Z was on it. We haven’t heard a Jay and Cole song since Sideline Story. But this is one of many songs that don’t even have a hook, just straight bars. Showing off his talents. To end the album is Hunger for Hours. This track ties up the entire theme of the album, balance and persistency. Beautiful finish. [Side note] favorite line; “fun fu*kin’ them hoes until you realize that you is the hoe.” Men, take heed.
Is this Coles best work, possibly. But something inside me says, wait a few years or maybe even a few months. Should I let The Off-Season age? Will this turn into a Reasonable Doubt or a Illmatic? Or will my opinion be obsolete? I have learned that with age comes maturity and that includes music. All I know is that Cole gave us a rap album that will maybe take years for others to feel. But that’s the beauty of Hip-Hop. There is not one bad song on this album and J. Cole will be spoken of for generations to come. As one of the best to ever do it.
Honorable mention to Bas.
May 30, 2021