J Cole has dropped his highly anticipated album, The Off-Season today (May 14).
His sixth album and follow-up to 2018’s KOD contains 12 tracks and a stacked list of producer credits, including Timbaland, Boi-1da, Frank Dukes and T-Minus. In typical Cole fashion, the album does not have any official features, though it does have cameos from 21 Savage, Lil Baby and Cam’ron, as Pitchfork notes.
The record’s release was preceded by the release of its lead single, “Interlude,” which dropped on May 10. The North Carolina MC also released a documentary on the album, Applying Pressure, where he shared the inspirations behind The Off-Season.
“One more time before I leave, before I feel like I’m fulfilled in this game, let me try to reach new heights from a skill level standpoint,” Cole said to 21 Savage, as captured in the doc.
Prior to its release, the rapper delivered two freestyles on May 13’s edition of the Power 106 Los Angeles radio show, LA Leakers—marking his first time on the program.
Some fans on social media took issue with a line in Cole’s freestyle that referenced disgraced actor Bill Cosby: “Let’s face it, he one of the greatest / No Bill Cosby shit, but if n***as is sleepin’, then fuck ’em.”
Fans reacted with disappointment on Twitter to Cole’s reference to Cosby, who is currently in prison on a sexual assault conviction. “J cole know that bill cosby line was outta pocket… he knew it. smh.,” one fan wrote. Others, however, considered the backlash was exaggerated, and the reference simply standard hip hop lyricism.
j cole know that bill cosby line was outta pocket… he knew it. smh…
— Devon Lewis (@devonlewis_) May 12, 2021
I see a lot of <needless> debate regarding Cole's Bill Cosby line; what bothers me is its most prominent by people who from outside the culture who don't understand hip hop lyricism & intent. So with that, take these definitions & apply them where they fit, if so… pic.twitter.com/xzmUdgB1dB
— Pasch….it sounds like cash (@Tao_Pasch) May 12, 2021
Hear Cole’s freestyles below:
And stream The Off-Season here: