In “applying pressure,” J. Cole touches on a lot of elements of his past and emphasizes how it shaped him to be the person he is today. In the lyrics, he sings: “Started my grind where crime fester, And nines showing like they in the second trimesters,” depicting how he began rapping in difficult circumstances. In the lyrics, “I got my mind on much bigger things, to say the lеast. My latest speeches sound like David East released them,” he discusses how he focused on the bigger picture while honing his skills to be as good as someone who is as lyrically respected as Dave East.
J. Cole rap about how hard it was for an up-and-coming rapper who did not make much money. He points out that while many rappers embellish their worth, they do not usually touch on what it’s like being a “broke rapper.” As J.Cole highlights, “Instead of cappin’, why don’t you talk about being a broke rapper? That’s a perspective I respect because it’s real.”
He also explains that it’s better to focus on your own growth than get jealous when he raps, “I can cap and say that I never scratched my jealousy’s itch. But thank God I conquered that ’cause if not, I’d never be rich. Envy, keep your pockets empty, so focus on you.” J. Cole makes it clear that you should stay real and focus on yourself to find success.