J. Cole is back on social media. And you know what that means. It's official: The Off-Season is on its way, we've finally got an album cover and – even better! – a release date.
Yesterday, the reclusive rapper took to Twitter (not before first testing whether it still works, tweeting “Is this thing on") to post a cover image and reveal The Off-Season is coming on May 14. “Just know this was years in the making,” he tweeted alongside an image of him standing before a basketball hoop in flames.
Cole doesn't take to social media unless it's absolutely necessary and promo-related so we know it's real. Rumors of a May release date had already been swirling after Dreamville artist, Bas, took to Instagram last week to tease a release date. The post, which has since been deleted, paired a photo of Cole recording in the studio with the caption "The Off-Season. pack your bags. in two weeks."
This was the first hint from the Dreamville camp at a release date since J. Cole first shared his album rollout plan late last year.
When J. Cole takes to social media, you know it's deliberate. So, when the rapper posted a cryptic photo to Instagram in December detailing a list of unreleased albums and teasing impending retirement, we had no reason not to believe him.
What the Dreamville boss dubbed the "Fall Off-era" seemingly involves dropping two other projects before releasing his previously-teased and highly-anticipated (and final) The Fall Off album.
Cole's post included a trajectory of projects with some already completed entries crossed out. For instance, "Features" appeared to be done, likely referencing the tracks he has guest-starred on since his last solo album, KOD, in 2018. Then his Dreamville compilation album Revenge of the Dreamers III, which dropped last year, also appeared crossed out on the list.
These entries were followed by two as-yet-unreleased projects, The Off Season – which we should be getting any day now if Bas is to be believed – and It’s A Boy, leading up to The Fall Off.
However, another detail that had fans scrambling was Cole's caption, which hinted at retirement. “I still got some goals I gotta check off for’ I scram…” he wrote. Unfortunately, this isn't news. Last year, he published an essay titled “The Audacity” in which he discussed retirement.
"... A long-term plan of becoming the best rapper I could possibly be before hanging up my jersey, leaving nothing on the table when all was said and done. The seeds for The Fall Off were planted ..." he wrote. "The fire that was once dying out has returned, and for that I’m grateful. On my career bucket list, there remain a few more items to check off before I give myself permission to enter whatever the next chapter of my life may be."
With The Off-Season right around the corner, we can't help but feel a little bit anxious. If the completion of these last three projects really means Cole will retire, are we even ready for new music yet?