Here, J. Cole applies pressure on his penniless haters in the rap game. He calls out those rappers who are "broke and clownin' a millionaire" because they're envious of his wealth.
At the beginning of the Fayetteville native's rap career, he was "seein' no cake, not even on dates I celebrated my birth." Cole admits in those difficult early years he sometimes felt pangs of jealousy of those better off than him. But he didn't let it fester and rather than throwing stones at others, he put his energies into bettering himself.
I can cap and say that I never scratched my jealousy's itch
But thank God I conquered that 'cause if not I'd never be rich
Envy keep your pockets empty, so just focus on you
Cole ends the track with an excerpt of a speech by civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is one of two tracks on The Off-Season where Cole is the sole writer and producer, the other one being "Close."
"Applying Pressure" is also the title of a short documentary which chronicles the making of The Off-Season. Directed by Dreamville Ventures' in-house director Scott Lazer, the 12-minute film was released on May 10, 2021.
Scott Lazer also directed the song's music video. Filmed in New York City, it features Cole rapping on the subway, in front of the Big Apple skyline, and in an auto garage. The clip also features an appearance from rapper Dave East, who Cole references in his rhymes.