The Off-Season is almost here.
With just five days until his new album, J. Cole gives fans a peek into his mind and creative process in his new documentary, “Applying Pressure: The Off-Season Documentary.” The nearly 13-minute clip, which is divided into four chapters, opens with 21 Savage asking Cole how he came up with the album title.
“The Off-Season was like the same concept,” he says, referring to his 2009 mixtape The Warm Up. “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…I put myself through drills. I really tried to work on my craft to like reach new heights and push myself.”
From there, Cole is seen boarding a Puma private jet as he reflects on his journey. “This past five years has been a fight against comfort,” he shares. “This is the moment that a lot of your favorite rappers hit a crossroad where they did what the f**k they set out to do and then the fruits of their labor started working against them.”
He admits that he started to get comfortable with his routine before realizing he had to change the course. “Are you okay with getting comfortable, chilling, mailing it in, waiting around on inspiration?” he ponders. “Did you leave no stone unturned creatively? And when I thought about that feeling, I’m like, ‘Nah, I’m not cool with that.'”
After his wife told him she was pregnant, Cole decided to “refocus” and “lock back in” so he returned to Mohammad’s Crib in New York where he lived while attending St. John’s University.
He also shared advice from Pharrell, who told him that he needed to devise a schedule between his work and personal life. So he built a studio at home. “I love being able to work knowing that my family is right upstairs,” he said.
Cole realized he had to put in the hours and start practicing more, which paid off. “It literally took years of practice, writing, trying, shooting, sharpening the pen to get it to a level where I feel like it’s been the past couple years. Like, it’s there.”
Chapter 4, “Applying Pressure,” closes out with Cole thinking about his exit plan, which culminates with his final album The Fall Off. “There are songs on here in this whole Fall Off era that I’ve been sitting on for years,” he said while revealing that his 2019 single “Middle Child” was made for The Fall Off.
“For a long time, I just knew what I wanted to do but I just couldn’t see it. This is the most ambitious shit I’ve ever done. It’s a patience and a trust. It’s a tight rope to walk, but I’m walking that shit.”
The Off-Season, the follow-up to 2018’s KOD, drops Friday.