For some fans, J. Cole is as much a Queens rapper as he is one from the South. His journey to rap stardom more or less started in New York, where he attended St. John’s University and met his collaborators and Dreamville co-founders Bas and Ibrahim Hamad. In the video for “Applying Pressure,” Cole revisits some of the most meaningful locales around the city for him in a gritty, nighttime shoot reminiscent of the ’90s rap aesthetic that informs much of his work. Dave East, who Cole name-checks in the song’s lyrics, also makes a cameo appearance.
“Applying Pressure” was also the title for the documentary Cole released as part of the rollout for his new album The Off-Season. In it, he explains the process behind the creation of the album, which was inspired and influenced by the drills he would run while training for basketball. Both sets of drills paid off for him; not only did The Off-Season reach No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart as many of his previous works had done, but all of the songs from the album also landed in the top 40 of the Hot 100, including the four most-streamed songs landing in the top 10. Meanwhile, his basketball workouts got him a spot on the roster of the Basketball Africa League’s Rwanda team.
Watch the “Applying Pressure” video above and stream The Off-Season here.