The clip opens with Cole chatting with 21 Savage, explaining that his new album was borne out of the same impulses that spurred his early mixtapes like 2009’s The Warm Up — a reaction to complacency and a desire to push himself further as an artist. While that first time around J. Cole was a hungry up-and-comer looking to prove something, as he discusses later in the documentary, he’s now at a different point in his career even though his motivation remains the same.
“I had to make a real decision: Are you OK with getting comfortable, chilling, mailing it in, waiting around on inspiration?” Cole says. “If this is as high as you ever got — not career success-wise, but from a skill level, like have you wrote your best songs — did you leave no stone unturned creatively? And when I thought about that feeling, I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not cool with that.’”
Elsewhere in the documentary, J. Cole speaks about adjusting his ceaseless work schedule after becoming a father and how becoming a better rapper and musician is similar to the training that goes into becoming a better basketball player (the 36-year-old rapper is actually getting ready to play for the Rwanda Patriots BBC basketball team in the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League).
J. Cole is set to release The Off-Season this Friday, May 14th. The album marks his sixth studio effort and follows his 2018 offering, KOD, as well as the 2019 Dreamville Records compilation, Revenge of the Dreamers III.