J. Cole kicks off his The Off Season album with this victory lap where he flexes about his life and successes in the rap game. He boasts about clocking up multiplatinum records since the start of his career.
Cole been goin' plat' since back when CDs was around
And alludes to other rappers releasing extensive albums without achieving the numbers he does.
Look how everybody clappin' when your 30-song album do a measly hundred thou'
The title references Cole traveling south on Interstate 95 from New York to his Fayetteville hometown in North Carolina.
Trace my steps all in this game, you could see we cover ground
Back and forth from NC to New York when Jeezy had the crown
Cole is recalling his early days with the New York City-based record label Roc Nation, when he would frequently travel between the Big Apple and home. Atlanta-based rapper Jeezy, who was big at the time, was making similar trips between Atlanta and his New York label Def Jam.
The song starts with Harlem rapper Cam'ron taking the role of Cole's hype man. His chest-thumping intro lays the foundation for the North Carolina rapper's flexing.
The track closes with a cappella vocals from Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz's 2000 track "Put Yo Hood Up."
Boi-1da and Colemxn's triumphant production samples Bobby Byrd's 1970 cut "I'm Not to Blame."
The album title refers to the dedication it takes for NBA players to become superstars. The big names work hard all year round fine-tuning their skills, even in the summer off-season. Every day, similarly to his basketball heroes, Cole is writing verses, making beats and developing his craft. He said in Applying Pressure: The Off-Season Documentary: "One more time before I leave, before I'm fulfilled in this game, let me try to reach a new height from a skill level standpoint."