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Rapper J. Cole shouts out Russell Westbrook and Ja Morant in new album, NBA world reacts

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Patriots captain can't wait to play with 'baller' J. Cole (1:04)

Aristide Mugabe is loving having J. Cole on his Patriots team for the Basketball Africa League. (1:04)

After a three-year hiatus, rapper and J. Cole, the new shooting guard for Patriots BBC, a Rwandan club in the Basketball Africa League, released his sixth studio album titled "The Off-Season." Despite spending the greater part of the past decade focusing on a multiplatinum music career, his basketball roots run deep.

Cole was a star basketball player at Sanford (North Carolina) High School before a short stint as a walk-on at St. John's University.

The North Carolina native also drew attention during the 2019 Dunk Contest when he performed at All-Star Weekend in his home state and nearly threw down a one-handed dunk:

The second song of the album, titled "p u n c h i n ' . t h e . c l o c k.", features audio from Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard's postgame interview after he put up 61 points in the NBA Bubble against the Dallas Mavericks. Lillard and CJ McCollum acknowledged the sample:

His latest project features multiple NBA references, including to Russell Westbrook, Ja Morant and Stephen Curry. The mentions received plenty of attention on social media:

The 36-year-old rapper is preparing to suit up in the Basketball Africa League, an NBA-backed league featuring 12 teams in 12 African countries. Patriots BBC will play in the first BAL game Sunday against Nigeria's Rivers Hoopers.