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J. Cole “The Off Season” Album Review

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2010 XXL Freshmen Cover juggernaut J.Cole awakes from his slumber and drops his new album “Off- Season.” “The Off-Season” wrestles with Gender, Class, and Race.

It forces the most casual rap fan to sit back and listen. This isn’t the first time Cole has gotten us to sit back and listen. After many comparisons to Kendrick Lamar, and both of them being from the same class of rappers.

Cole and Lamar are both are now regarded as the new pillars of rap of this generation.

They both bridge the gap between the casual listener and the “old head,” contributing to their success and longevity. Cole story was not always like this.

Jermaine Lamarr Cole was born on a military base in Germany to his father, an African American veteran, and to his mother, Kay, then moving to Fayetteville, N.C.  Cole grew up in a racially diverse environment with his father very much absent in his life.

“ I can identify with white people because I know my mother, her side of the family who loved me, said Cole, “I identify more with what I look like because that’s how I got treated, but not necessarily in a negative way.

Cole grows up dealing with the complexities of race as a mixed child. Despite this, Cole excelled in his Academics at a young age, graduating high school with a 4.2 GPA with high honors.

Cole began rapping From the young age of twelve. Cole receiving an ASR-X music sampler as a gift from his mother, decided to take music seriously in the 2000s

After, Cole would heighten emphasis on improving his production skills.

“Off-Season” was executive produced by Cole, founder and manager of Dreamville Ibrahim Hamad, and legendary producer T-Minus. This album was the first since “Born Sinner” to have guest features.

Cole is very much a producer, so he likes to direct where the music is going as far as arrangement, or the bounce, or feeling that he wants to have, said T Minus.

Cole, unlike other artists, is very involved in all aspects of the creation of the music.

He writes all of his own music, writes all the songs he produces, he mixes; he super involved… He’s just that guy who’s very grounded when it comes to the creation of his music, said T- Minus.

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“Off- Season” has been in the works since mid-2018. Cole eluded on his Instagram with a post reading: “The Fall Off Era.”  Captions read: “I still got some goals I gotta check off.”

Let us take a look at a few of the standout tracks.

When the album dropped on May 13, his first song titled “95-south” set the tone for the entire album.

The track was almost a reminder to the haters and the naysayers that Cole is still the master-penman. Every bar was a reminder of what Cole has been doing and still been doing since he decided to take a step back from music a bit.

Then we slide into a track titled “Amari.” We are greeted with some harmonics voiced by Cole himself behind a light melodic strum of an acoustic guitar.

“Amari” is a reflective track that speaks about some positives and the negatives of the industry and growing up. He raps about leaving the game and leaving an impact. How it affected his family and friend

“Plotting my escape, This game rotten ,ni**as fake.”  Lyrics from “Amari”

“My life” starts off differently than the first two tracks. Morray introduces his unique rustic voice to the piece. Morrary’s background vocals , give the track an almost  “negro spiritual” feel next to the symbols’ crashing and old school guitar sound.

Cole opens up with a story of police knocking on his door to get information about a shooting down the street, going from there to picket-fences, and selling out stadiums, showing the profound lifestyle changes. This is also the first song on the album to have features. 21  Savage also gave his unique sound to the track, having a similar “hard knocks”  upbringing to Cole.

This album is a complete 180 degrees from his previous album KOD, which critics said went way too political. “Off Season” was one big diss track to Cole haters. At the same time, giving us snapshots of his life growing up.  While revealing that some of your favorite rappers are lying on social media about their “financial prosperity.”

Cole artfully once again crafts his opinion behind witty punchlines and A1 storytelling. Cole will once again go down as a legend and a voice for the disenfranchised through his artistry.

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