The wait is over. The Off-Season is here and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. You like deep, moody Cole? He’s here. Prefer Cole on his 90s rap ish? You got it. Wanna hear him take aim at other artists, whether directly or indirectly? He does some of that, too.
A lone wolf in his own right, Cole recently confessed that he didn’t want to look back at his career and wish he’d taken the opportunity to work with more artists. Keeping that in mind, the album kicks off with an unexpected, but always welcomed, guest: Cam’ron. The unlisted features continue the further we dive into the album – but this isn’t a review – you’re here for bars.
So without further ado, here are 15 of the hottest quotables from The Off-Season.
J. Cole Is Back: 15 Hottest Bars From ‘The Off-Season’ was originally published on zhiphopcleveland.com
1. “I be stayin’ out the way, but if the beef do come around/ Could put a M right on your head, you Luigi brother now.”
Now THIS is how you open an album. “95.south,” samples “U Don’t Know” from Jay-Z’s 2001 masterpiece, The Blueprint. Along for the ride is Cam’ron, who talks that talk the way only a Harlemite can. Cole doesn’t just fire a warning shot here, he empties the clip.
2. “Envy keep yo pockets empty, so just focus on you/ If you broke and clownin a millionaire, the joke is on you.”
Social media birthed a million-and-one trolls. With this line Cole reminds the meme-makers that no matter what they say, success truly is the sweetest revenge.
3. “Some [fights] broken up too quick to call it/ My last scrap was with Puff Daddy, who woulda thought it.”
The rumor that Cole and Diddy had a fistfight has been floating around for years now, and it was interesting to see an older, wiser Cole acknowledge the event on wax. Of course both men have moved on, as the voice of Puff can be heard towards the end of the song.
4. “All we believe in is homicide/ I got a good heart, so I send teddybears every time we make they mamas cry.”
21 Savage held his own the song “my.life” as he talks about the family, friends, and feuds that turned him into… well.. a savage. With this line, 21 gives us his twisted version of empathy toward the loved ones of an enemy.
5. “Check out my projects, like them workers that Section 8 appoints/ And you’ll see how ‘i’ flip like exclamation points.”
If “the.climb.back” sounds familiar, it’s because the song was released last summer. Even though it’s an older track now, it fits nicely on The Off-Season. With so much great wordplay here, we had to recognize this standout line.
6. “I punch a timesheet? Not no mo’/Cause my assigned seat is a throne.”
Love it or hate it, it’s Cole, Drake and Kendrick Lamar sharing the throne right now. Cole may be far less boastful than Drizzy or Lamar, but he’s well aware of his place in the game.
7. “A problem with me is like the BET Hip Hop Awards/ I’m startin to see you n—-s don’t want it.”
Ah yes, another one from “the.climb.back.” Cole’s slick shot at rappers and a certain award show can’t be ignored here. Again, this song is just full of gems.
8. “These n—-s say that they killas, they lyin/ Only thing I see yall killin is time.”
Time waits for no man. On this one, taken from the track “100.mil’,” Cole points out that not only are these dudes not dangerous, they usually aren’t very productive, either.
9. “When I’m in love, I love heavenly/ If you betray me, you dead to me/ I disrespect you, respectfully.”
Another bar from 21 Savage’s spot on The Off-Season. The gangster & gentleman offers a friendly reminder that he takes love seriously, hates backstabbers, and if he ever insults you, he’ll be sure to do it in the kindest way possible.
10. “I’m bleedin from fightin my demons head up/ When I get defeated, believe I get up.”
Life’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and still get back up. Or at least that’s what Sylvester Stallone said in a Rocky movie. Cole would probably agree, as he battles the worst parts of himself on “100.mil’.”
11. “I can’t reach up too high, evidently/ Never see ‘em when drivin’ a Bentley/ I can’t be out here moppin’ up Wendy’s.”
Another line from the track “my.life,” Cole is trying to find balance as he knows flying too close to the sun may be dangerous, yet not reaching for his full potential could lead to a fall-off of epic proportions.
12. “Make a few thousand dollars stack with every hour pass/ I catch you playin’ inside my lane, and I’mma foul yo ass.”
Cole loves basketball, a lot. Here he warns any would-be competition that he’s vicious in this game (Hip-Hop), and if you get in his way, things can ugly.
13. “I stopped creepin six years ago/ Fun f—–n them hoe’s until you realize, you IS the hoe.”
Now a husband and father, Cole is focused on family. With this line, he acknowledges the wilder days of his past, but random hookups stopped being cool when he began feeling used.
14. “If I said I was the toughest growin’ up, I would be lyin/ I had a fear of gettin punched while everybody eyein/ Add to that, a constant fear of dyin.”
A moment of vulnerability. While most rappers shy away from pointing out their weaker moments, Cole takes it head on: Getting beat up, embarrassed and even killed weighed heavy on his mind as a child.
15. “I dibble-dabble in a few religions/ My homie constantly tellin’ me bout Quran.. puttin’ me on.”
Throughout Cole’s career, he’s mentioned the impact friendships have had on his life. From buddies that gave him a place to stay, to those that he’d ride around aimlessly with, to the ones that pushed him to take his music seriously – Cole pays loves his circle. This line, from the track, “let.go.my.hand,” could offer insight to Cole’s headspace now that The Off-Season is done and he looks toward the future.