Revealed in 2016 with his opus Free 6lack, 6lack is back with a new project: East Atlanta Love Letter. An ode to his hometown but also an opportunity for the one who recently became a father to take stock. More than an album, a real therapy.
I turned a nightmare right into a dream
He also raised in zone 6 of Atlanta, 6lack is nothing new Gucci Mane. More influenced by the smooth jazz of Sade and the nu-soul ofErykah Badu | that by the violence of the districts, Ricardo Valentine of his real name, remains a disillusioned former kid who sees his entourage go up in smoke, squatting the concrete of the prisons or the engraved stones of the cemeteries. Introduced to music by his father, Valentine quickly turned to rap and distinguished himself in battles at college in which he faced other kids in the neighborhood, including a certain Young Thug. A passion that drives him to pack his bags in 2011, heading for the Miami sun. Then aged 19, he signed with International Music Group, label of Flo Rida. Luxury cars and over-equipped studio, such are the promises made to the young artist, on one condition: drop this R’n’B that he loves so much in favor of more pop, more “bankable” music. Trapped and unable to meet these unnatural requirements, he quickly found himself up against the wall with a label that did not want to make him grow or let him go. Five years of hardship, hunger and uncertain nights followed, spent outside or in the studio.
There is no question for Ricardo to give up his dreams: he will be a rapper, no matter what he has to go through and this episode will not be the last. Finished International Music Group and Miami, 6lack now joins LoveRenaissance and Interscope Records, a big team that we no longer present. The real adventure begins, with Free 6lack, the artist’s first studio album, and his flagship track “Prblms”. On the cover of the project, the tone is set: the rapper poses serene next to a bear, symbol of quiet strength, which he also loathes tattooed on his hand. The success is with go since the album is found 34th on the Billboard and will be worth to him a tour in company of The Weeknd and 2 Grammy nominations. A big hit in the raposphere that sits 6lack’s soaring style.
East Atlanta Love Letter
A successful first album is necessarily accompanied by thousands of pairs of eyes (and ears) on the lookout for the next success … or the last crash. What about thenEast Atlanta Love Letter, in which the artist engages more than ever?
Between FREE 6LACK and East Atlanta Love Letter, two years have passed and in two years in a man’s life many things can happen. This period transformed 6lack from a young R’n’B prodigy to a thoughtful and confident dad. A recent paternity which largely influenced this second opus and which is confirmed, among other things, by the cover of the album on which he staged himself in a “home-made” studio carrying his daughter, Syx Rose Valentine.
The responsibilities are not the same, nor the way of creating. He who claimed to be too selfish because too much in love and devoted to his art must now refocus his priorities and integrate his daughter into the equation of his life. He declares it by asserting “Music will never make me smile like my daughter can”.
Composed of 14 tracks, the album will not be a musical metamorphosis for 6lack, but all the more affirms the trajectory that he has always tried to take.
Unsurprisingly, we find the same gliding and dark atmosphere in which Ricardo comes to expose pain and sorrows. 6lack’s great strength lies in this R’n’B with its deep trap nuances. Without being the greatest of singers, he succeeds in producing a perfect homogeneity between the production and the voice which manages to snatch the listener into a melancholy whirlwind from which it is difficult to escape.
On the production side, we find Created, (the French having worked for Drake, Lomepal or Nekfeu) which signs the titles “Nonchalant” and “Unfair”. T-Minus, Bizness Boi or Jakob Rabitsch (very present on FREE 6LACK) are also in the game.
The other particularity of this opus is the meager presence of featurings. Relatively appreciable concept, Ricardo simply surrounds himself with four guests and turns to a casting of the most prestigious. Future comes to lend his voice on the eponymous title of the album while J.Cole, Offset and Khalid are responsible for completing the guest list.
The project is marked by a soft and refined overall atmosphere, interspersed with titles more shaped for radio stations (“Balenciaga Challenge”, “East Atlanta Love Letter”). Side texts, the sincerity and humanity of 6lack observed on his first project are confirmed more on this last. He claims to have written the album himself with a view to helping people with social anxieties and difficulties with the word “perspective” as a starting point on a whiteboard. A positive approach in which 6lack lays bare its difficulties and fears and opens the door to communication as a solution, music as therapy.
And as if the musical aspect was not enough to convince, Ricardo manages to bring his album to another dimension through the various clips. The most convincing example is the video for “Nonchalant”, the album’s second single, where the calm vibe of the song perfectly matches the tranquility of the shots filmed in Iceland. Icebergs, geysers and waterfalls reinforce the reassuring message of the rapper from Atlanta who understands with intelligence and finesse the exercise of visual staging of his songs.
Baby, I’ma love you like a stan, stan, stan
Marked by strong moments mixing social problems, romantic failures and declarations to those close to him, this introspection into the mind of the native of Atlanta is a convincing success, to such an extent that 6lack wonders if his link with his audience is partly due to the intimate aspect of his tracks.
Damn, do i even have the fans for this shit ?
to be rapping like this people understanding this shit
it’s demanding and shit, but i stand for these kids
like they stan for the kid, understand, how we clear
A dialogue undertaken with his fans with whom he does not hesitate to change places to declare his obsessive love for a woman on the last track of the album, “Stan”. The title is an obvious reference to the tube ofEminem and is built on a sample of the song “New Grave” by the American duo DJDS. Here, it’s Ricardo the frozen fan, the man who can love without limit. Because if the project oscillates between fears and revelations, it ends with a positive feeling, perhaps the most positive of all: love.