6lack- East Atlanta Love Letter
6lack November 1, 2018
By: Bri Bradley
Ricardo Valdez Valentine, better known by his stage name 6lack is an American singer, songwriter, and rapper from Atlanta, Georgia. 6lack began his rap career in middle school where he would participate in rap battles, once even competing against Young Thug. 6lack started off as a Soundcloud rapper and blew up from there. The first track 6lack released was “Ex Calling” in 2016 and it helped his career take off. The catchy tune was followed by other singles such as “Prblms” and “Loyal” all centered around issues the rapper had had with his ex in the past. 6lack released his first studio album Free 6lack in November of 2016 which peaked at number 34 on the Billboard 200 chart. Flash forward to 2018 and 6lack has just released his second studio album East Atlanta Love Letter, with the tracks “Switch” and “Nonchalant” preceding its drop. While 6lack’s first studio album was on repeat for me for months, East Atlanta Love Letter fell extremely flat.
The album opens up with the track “Unfair” and I was automatically intrigued, the intro is a little eerie and long, making you look forward to the opening lyrics which are strong ones to say the least. “My mistakes don’t make me less of a man” are the opening lyrics of the album and they present a strong thesis for the rest of the album. Listening to this track, I was satisfied with the usual 6lack sound and style, similar to his first album Free 6lack. There’s some cool high pitch autotuning that makes the track unique. Happy with this first track, the next track blends right into the first. No break between songs, the two flow together seamlessly. The only reason I knew it was a new track was from looking down at my phone. The second track “Loaded Gun” is much more of a hip hop/rap track compared to the first and this is where the album starts to fall off.
Compared to 6lack’s debut album, lyrically this album is a huge downgrade. 6lack has always been one of my favorite artists because of his strong lyrics that really connect with the listener but this album lacks strong lyrics throughout. Sure, there are some solid lines here and there but no one song is littered with more than a few good lines each and some songs lack lyrical strength entirely. 6lack is an artist you can relate to and root for because of his relatable lyrics and his rough past. But this album doesn’t present with the beautiful lyrics that made me, along with many others, fall in love with 6lack. However, the lyrics aren’t the only thing that makes this album subpar.
My biggest pet peeve with the album overall is that some of the tracks carry over and flow into the next one seamlessly, while others have distinct pauses in between leaving the album inconsistent, confusing, and choppy. I’m all for songs flowing that flow into the next but only if you keep it that way throughout, the inconsistency leaves the album feeling awkward and out of place. East Atlanta Love Letter also has 4 features from Future, J. Cole, Offset, and Khalid – all very prominent and talented rappers or R&B artists. However, none of the features really add much to the album at all. The harmonies between 6lack and Future and 6lack and Khalid are beautiful but as for the individual parts of the features, they are weak. With such strong artists you expect a strong feature from them, but these are extremely lacking. The album also has snippets of a girl talking on what sounds like a voicemail box in a few of the tracks and it makes the album feel very choppy. Artists using voicemails or recorded phone calls is one of the most cliche things you see in the music industry, and unfortunately, 6lack fell victim to that trap.
Overall this album isn’t horrible by any means, and I actually originally thought I was going to be in love with this album because of the first two singles (“Switch” and “Nonchalant”) that were released. The lyrics on these tracks took me back to Free 6lack, and reminded me how talented 6lack was, but then listening to the full album when it was released I was left extremely disappointed. The album is just more of the same each track and the best word to describe East Atlanta Love Letter is boring. 6lack still sounds great and there are some great hip hop beats, but the album lacks lyrically and has no real standout tracks.
I will always be a 6lack fan and will always stand behind his music, but East Atlanta Love Letter left me bored and unimpressed.
Favorite Tracks: “Switch”, “Nonchalant”, “Balenciaga Challenge”