It’s not “Free 6LACK” anymore – he’s loose

By Rory Thompson |

6LACK, an alternative R&B artist, delivered his highly-anticipated sophomore album, “East Atlanta Love Letter” last month, following up his critically-acclaimed debut album “FREE 6LACK,” released in 2016.  

“FREE 6LACK” was our first glimpse of what the Atlanta artist could deliver and what he delivered was amazing and shook up the state of contemporary R&B. 6LACK blended the trap Atlanta sound – which has been dominating airwaves for the past few years – with contemporary R&B to make alternative R&B music that is perfect to play when it’s late and you’re in your feelings. 6LACK’s debut studio album landed him a few accolades: a top 40 album on the Billboard charts, a RIAA-certified gold album, multiple platinum singles and two Grammy nominations. “FREE 6LACK” proved 6LACK was a force to be reckoned with.  

2017 was largely a quiet year for the Atlanta artist. He dropped just three singles: “First F-ck” ft. Jhené Aiko, “That Far,” and “Grab the Wheel” ft. Timbaland – none of which were able to chart. 6LACK did however welcome his first child, Syx Rose Valentine, in February 2017. He also opened for The Weeknd on his “Starboy: Legend of the Fall Tour.” Last year left music fans and critics wanting more 6LACK music. 2018 started off quiet as well until he released “Cutting Ties” on Valentine’s Day. In April 2018, he released “OTW” with Khalid and Ty Dolla Sign. The single reached No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100, 6LACK’s highest charting single to date. This also marked the first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6LACK since his 2016 multi-platinum smash hit “Prblms,” which peaked at No. 72.  

6LACK announced the release date and cover art of his sophomore effort on Aug. 29 via social media. This sent the music industry into frenzy as all eyes were on what the Atlanta artist would deliver the second time around. Would this album be better than his alternative R&B masterpiece?  

6LACK’s new album, “East Atlanta Love Letter,” leaves off where “FREE 6LACK” ends and builds upon it.  Like “FREE 6LACK,” the album opens with a very personal song with “Unfair.” If you’re not familiar with 6LACK’s discography, all of his songs are very self-reflective, which allows his fans and critics alike to relate to him more than they can with the flashy and flamboyant rappers that dominate the Internet. 6LACK utilizes personal and self-reflective lyrics to further the story of his life. He makes himself vulnerable, which allows for us to truly feel his strongest and truest feelings. The use of interpersonal communication is very evident in all of 6LACK’s music and that continues to be shown on this album. For example, on the album opener “Unfair,” he writes about his insecurities:  

“Hope my mistakes don’t make me less of a man/But lately it feel like them shits really can/I’m prayin‘ I don’t wake up all alone It’s hard to say it, so I write a song/But that ain’t equal to me, righting wrongs.” 

On the final song of the album “Stan,” 6LACK writes the affectious hook about his infatuation with a romantic lover: 

Say you’ll always be my greatest fan/Sing your favorite words just like a band/Only if you’ll love me like a stan, stan, stan, aw, man.”  

On the second song that 6LACK released this year, “Switch,” 6LACK talks about having trust issues with his romantic lover: 

If I give you my heart, would you hold that?/Would you put it up safe or would you fold that? 

6LACK shows off his songwriting ability even more than he did with “FREE 6LACK.” 6LACK’s stellar ability to write memorable and personal lyrics over melodic trap beats is part of what makes him so special. With bangers like “Switch,” “Nonchalant,” and “Pretty Little Fears” ft. J. Cole, he continues to show that he has experienced a lot of growth over the last couple of years but still has plenty of time to grow. During this stage of his career, he is going to start to catapult himself in to a bona fide household name.  

“East Atlanta Love Letter” features four different features from four of the biggest artists out there now: Future, J. Cole, Offset, and Khalid. When the album first dropped, the expected first week sales projection of “East Atlanta Love Letter” was around 60,000 units. The album went on to sell 77,000 units and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, which is significantly better than “FREE 6LACK” which sold only 10,000 units and debuted at No. 68.  This stellar improvement in sales proves 6LACK has a loyal fan base that is steadily growing and is willing to hear more 6LACK music in the future.  

Rating: 8.2/10 

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