The Off-Season Review

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"J. Cole" by DeShaun Craddock is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Can J. Cole reenter the rap game on a high with The Off-Season, or will it disappoint?

Collin Claycomb, Staff Writer

After over two years of no releases, J. Cole finally put out an album. On May 14, 2021, The Off-Season dropped. Cole is one of the biggest rappers in the music scene right now, and his music is always highly anticipated. Does The Off-Season live up to the hype, or does it disappoint? 

95 South

“95 South” is a phenomenal opening track. It has a powerful beat and great background vocals. J. Cole, known for his expert lyricism does his thing, as per usual. The only negative is the lack of catchiness.

Overall:  8.5/10

Amari

“Amari” is my favorite track off of the whole album. A low key but good beat, complemented by the songs extreme catchiness, great background vocals, and Cole’s lyrics makes Amari an instant classic.

Overall:  10/10

My Life

The album was originally revealed to have no features on it, but a surprise appearance from 21 Savage on My Life was a very pleasant surprise. Cole and 21 had a classic collab with A Lot, and although this song isn’t that, it isn’t far behind at all. The vocals from Morray add a ton to this song as well.

Overall:  9/10

Applying Pressure

This is probably my least favorite song on the album, as it seems to struggle with cohesion. Both the beat and the rapping are great, but they seem to be very different, as if the beat is almost chasing Cole’s rapping. The air horns and laser noises at the beginning add to this effect, along with Cole ranting about someone “doing it” for 30 seconds. He really just said do it over and over again. Still a good song though.

Overall:  6.5/10

Punchin’ the Clock

This song is nothing special, but is definitely not bad. It’s a J. Cole song, so the lyrics are there, the beat is decent, but nothing especially stands out. Similar to “95 South,” not super catchy, but still good.

Overall:  8/10

100 Mil’

The opening vocals on this song, tied in with the beautiful beat makes 1 0 0 . m i l ‘ a top 5 song on the album. The cadence feels like classic Cole, reminiscent of Middle Child, and moving smoothly and with the beat. The chorus is catchy and the rest of the song is not far behind, not to mention the bass drops throughout the song.

Overall:  9.5/10

Pride Is the Devil

This song is barely behind “Amari” on my favorite tracks from the album and has all the assets to grow on me. Spectacular lyrics with very real meaning, and a beat that just makes you want to move. This song also has a surprise feature in Lil Baby. One of the song’s awesome beat changes features Cole’s lyrics and rapping seamlessly transitioning into Lil Baby’s verse in which he  absolutely torches the beat. A classic for sure.

Overall:  10/10

Let Go My Hand

“Let Go My Hand” has a much chiller and relaxed vibe and beat. This is the type of song where you are really forced to listen to Cole’s beautiful lyrics and realize the song’s meaning. The song is about letting someone (in a specific instance Cole’s son) go off on their own and be their own man. Great song.

Overall:  8.5/10

Interlude

“Interlude” was the single off of The Off-Season, and was an immediate success. A great vocal sample to open the song into a fire beat. Cole begins rapping and it’s instantly an upbeat, catchy melody. The cadence is great, fast as it is, it matches the beat and helps the song tremendously.

Overall:  9.5/10

The Climb Back

The vocal sample on “The Climb Back” is my biggest negative. It’s quite whiny and gets annoying. Other than that, it’s a great song. The chorus is flowy and catchy and the great lyricism of Cole is as strong as ever. If only that annoying sample wasn’t there.

Overall:  7.5/10

Close

This song almost suffers the same fate as “Applying Pressure” with the beat being behind and incoherent with Cole’s rapping, but it’s just good enough to not be annoying. Other than that this song isn’t super special with the vocal sample being my favorite part.

Overall:  7.5/10

Hunger On the Hillside

This opens with a pretty soft, almost claiming beat, but soon moves to more upbeat with vocal samples and added instruments. The chill vibes of this song are similar to “Let Go My Hand,” but the drums make it different. This song is good, but that’s all it is, good. Decent beat, lyrics, but Cole’s cadence change about two minutes in is the only ear-catching aspect of the song. Definitely not bad however.

Overall:  8/10

 

Album Overall:  9 /10

As much as this album has some mediocre songs, the highs of “Amari,” 

“Pride Is the Devil” and “Interlude” make this album a classic, and a great way for Cole to comeback from his off-season.