In support of his sixth, and sixth consecutive No. 1 studio album, The Off-Season, J. Cole stopped by the house of the Houston Rockets to transform the arena into his own personal basketball court. As the championship Chicago Bulls theme echoed throughout the stadium, Cole was shown being escorted through the underground tunnels of the arena. The artist’s awards and Billboard numbers flashed on the screen displays as “player stats” as he made his way to the stage.
Cole has always had a deep connection with basketball, playing for his schools' teams at an early age but continuing it into his music career as well. Beginning with his first mixtape, The Come Up, Cole continued the basketball theme with his next releases The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights, and his first studio album, Cole World: The Sideline Story. Cole has also taken part in various official, and unofficial, celebrity basketball games as well as signed a three-game contract with the African Basketball League team, the Rwanda Patriots on May 10, 2021, just four days before the release of his latest album.
“When I play that song ("Workout") it always amazes me. Some people know every bar, every lyric, word for word, and the energy you all give back is amazing. I wish every artist can get that one day, that feeling, but at the same time remember to always be you and do what you want. If it’s your show, then you play the songs YOU want to play.”
Cole seems to maybe still struggle with his quick shot to fame and perception of being a true rapper/lyricist. With pressure to get a No. 1 single from his label for his first studio album, Cole composed “Workout,” a poppy hip-hop track that quickly topped the charts. But Cole was upset when his idol and hip-hop legend Nas expressed his dislike for the single, resulting in the track “Let Nas Down” on his following album Born Sinner. Nas eventually explained it as a misunderstanding in his return track “Made Nas Proud” but the toll was taken on Cole. From that point on most of the artist’s music and personal perception has changed. He now has a much more reserved and humble personality and the creation of more personal and thought-provoking music.