By Chance Meeting
When it comes to a career in anything artistic, music especially, evolution is key. Many artists often fall into the same cycles, leaving their work saccharine and mundane. A “fall off” if you will. But J. Cole is far from falling off. On his latest project, The Off Season, the Fayetteville native is rapping like a young man with nothing to lose and everything to prove.
It’s been three years since his last release, KOD, which made some waves but failed to match the peak of his career – his 2014 magnum opus, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. On his latest project, he might not have captured the nostalgic hit-turner of Forest Hills, but his rapping ability seems to continue to evolve, evoking a man who knows he’s at the top of his game with still so much more room to grow.
The first singles from the project, the.climb.back and interlude, helped to showcase the effortless flow and biting lyrics that riddle the rest of an album filled with some of J. Cole’s finest. Amari sees J.Cole transition to a modern trap beat where he eats more than anyone in the game could who uses the same type of beats right now.
The project closes with what might be one of J. Cole’s best tracks. Hunger.on.hillside, featuring the talented Dreamville alum Bas, is a hopeful retrospective where Cole remembers the difficulty of his growth from an impoverished youth and the struggle that culminated in the massive success he knows today. With the repeated aside “God has a plan for you” over the beats angelic loop of strings, Cole assures us that we all too can achieve the success we desire if only we believe. The Off Season may feel like a pit-stop for bigger things to come for J. Cole, but in this difficult time in the world it’s the instant classic hip-hop fans need, and a welcome evolution for one of the greatest rappers of his generation.