J. Cole made SLAM history on Tuesday (May 11) as the first artist to be featured solo on the basketball magazine’s cover. The 36-year-old rapper, who is reportedly plotting his next moves as a professional baller, spoke with the outlet about his forthcoming album, The Off-Season.
“The Off-Season symbolizes the work that it takes to get to the highest height. The Off-Season represents the many hours and months and years it took to get to top form,” Cole said about his sixth studio effort, slated for release this Friday (May 14). “Just like in basketball, what you see him do in the court, that shit was worked on in the summertime. So for an athlete, if they take their career seriously and if they really got high goals and want to chase them, the off-season is where the magic really happens; where the ugly shit really happens, where the pain happens — the pushing yourself to uncomfortable limits.”
In the interview, Cole made several comparisons to his rap career and basketball, which clearly inspired The Off-Season’s title.
“Once you get to the season, it’s too late to get better. You’ll get better naturally, but what you know is what you know,” he continued. “You’re getting that shit off in the off-season. So, that’s really what [the title] represents. It represents the time spent getting better and pushing.”
Elsewhere in the chat, Cole also discussed rumors that The Fall Off, anticipated after The Off-Season, will be his final album.
“… I’m super comfortable with the potential of being done with this shit, but I’m never going to say, ‘Oh, this is my last album,” he explained. “Because I never know how I’m going to feel two years, three years, four years down the line, 10 years down the line. But please believe, I’m doing all this work for a reason.”
“I’m doing all this work to be at peace with — if I never did another album, I’m cool. That’s the reason for all of this, so I know that I put everything on the table,” he added. “I left everything on the table and I’m good with that. Because there’s a lot of shit I want to do with my life and in my life that, because I have such an intense love and passion for the craft [that] if I don’t let that go, I’m not going to be able to get to these other things that I also want to learn and grow and be good at.”