Welp, that didn’t last long. No sooner had I hit “publish” on this last post about fans’ speculations than J. Cole announced the release date for his upcoming album, now titled The Off-Season, and shared its cover. The album is due next Friday, May 14. Check out the cover below.
Cole previously teased the project on Instagram, writing that he’d just finished giving it the “car test” in his Story and saying that he was “too excited” for fans to hear it. This came just days after his Dreamville labelmate Bas seemingly teased a release date two weeks away — which turned out to be an accurate prediction (although, with all the false starts and release rumors that have circulated around the project, you never know). It’s been over three years since the release of Cole’s last album, K.O.D., so it’s understandable that fans were antsy for any and all new information about the upcoming follow-up, but the sudden announcement was still a surprise, even with all the clues.
For one thing, J. Cole spent most of 2020 lying low and promoting his Puma sneakers more than his music. Aside from a handful of tracks, there was little to suggest that the album was incoming — it’s not like he’d put “Snow On Tha Bluff” on the tracklist after the commotion it caused. However, it seems Cole put that time to good use, not only pursuing a basketball career but also changing his album’s title from The Fall-Off to a more basketball theme-appropriate one — drawing the parallel between his early, hoop-oriented releases and hopefully, shucking the “grumpy old man” vibes of his most recent album.
The Off-Season is due 5/14 through Interscope and Dreamville.