J. Cole might be returning with a new album in 2023.
At least that’s what fans are hoping for after noticing the North Carolina native has cleared out his Instagram page — a tactic often deployed by artists before kickstarting the rollout for a new project.
After all, Cole previously wiped his Instagram clean in January 2019 days before dropping “Middle Child,” the lead single from Dreamville’s star-studded Revenge of the Dreamers III compilation that arrived that summer.
Cole, who is not exactly prolific on social media despite boasting almost eight million followers on Instagram and a further 14.3 million on Twitter, has yet to confirm plans to release new music.
But some fans are already speculating that he could be prepping The Fall Off or It’s a Boy, two projects he teased as part of “The Fall Off Era” back in 2020. It was in that same post that he also teased The Off-Season, which dropped in May 2021.
The album, which boasted appearances from 21 Savage, Lil Baby, Cam’ron and more, handed Cole his sixth consecutive solo No. 1 on the Billboard 200 after tallying 282,000 first-week units. It was later nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2022 Grammy Awards.
“J. Cole just cleared his instagram y’all think he’s gonna drop It’s A Boy on January 28th this year?” one Twitter user asked, while another wrote: “J. Cole has cleared his instagram. Is he getting into release mode? Is The Fall Off coming sooner than we think?”
Another possibility is the soundtrack to Creed III, which Dreamville has been tapped to executive produce. The movie — starring Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson and Jonathan Majors — hits theaters on March 3.
Despite not dropping a solo project in 2022, J. Cole still made his presence felt last year. The 37-year-old delivered show-stealing verses on tracks with Benny The Butcher, BIA, YG, Smino and EarthGang while running point on Dreamville’s D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape with DJ Drama.
His braggadocious appearance on Benny’s “Johnny P’s Caddy” was crowned one of HipHopDX‘s Best Rap Verses of 2022, with writer Mark Elibert declaring: “What J. Cole did to The Alchemist-produced beat should be considered a crime.”
Outside of music, Cole strengthened his love affair with basketball by briefly suiting up for the Scarborough Shooting Stars in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL).
“I had to let them know how incredible this was,” he said of his two-game stint with the team. “The players, the coaching staff, the organization, the league, it’s a crazy thing when you see it on paper, when you see what’s actually happening, and they made me feel so welcome.”
He also made history as the first rapper to cover NBA 2K, appearing as both a playable character in 2K23 and the focus of its MyCAREER story mode.