J. Cole Announces His New Album Is Coming After 'Years in the Making'

J. Cole
Wesley Mann

J. Cole photographed on Aug. 16, 2018 at The Silo in Houston.

Cole world, rejoice, because the real is back, the Ville is back. Platinum-selling rapper and Dreamville Records founder J. Cole has just announced the coming of his next album, The Off-Season, with a release date set for May 14.

The Fayetteville, N.C., lyricist announced the project on his social media channels, sharing the cover art. "Just know this was years in the making," he noted in the caption.

The announcement attracted an avalanche of comments, retweets and likes from fans and industry names alike. His Instagram post brought in over 25,000 comments in 20 minutes, while on Twitter, many are citing a now-iconic parody video of a fan reacting to J. Cole dropping music after a long hiatus.

The highly anticipated album comes three years after Cole's last album, KOD -- an acronym for Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed and Kill Our Demons. KOD debuted at No. 1, making it the artist's fifth album to debut atop the Billboard 200 chart. The Off-Season is the first of three albums the rapper teased in a December 2020 Instagram post that caused speculation surrounding his retirement from the rap game. According to the post, the following albums will be titled It's a Boy and The Fall-Off, a play on his first mixtape released in 2007, The Come Up.

The Off-Season cover art is reminiscent of his freshman mixtape, The Come Up, showing Cole standing in the right corner with a cool-toned, city background. What's different is The Off-Season art shows a basketball hoop set ablaze in the background, potentially a nod to his almost career as a ball player, and remaining consistent with his previous sports-themed album concepts, including The Warm Up, Sideline Story and Friday Night Lights.

See his announcement and cover art below: