6lack takes thoughtful approach with new album ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’

6lack takes thoughtful approach with new album ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’

6lack takes thoughtful approach with new album ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’
October 09
13:50 2018

Following his breakout release of “Free 6lack” in 2016,  6lack had a moment similar to when his rhythm and blues contemporary Bryson Tiller released his debut project “Trapsoul” in 2015: Both were everywhere. Their projects were at the top of every streaming service, their songs were on every playlist and their name had a meteoric rise to the top of music conversations.

Unlike Tiller, however, 6lack returns with a second album that enhances his style without losing the qualities that initially brought him success.

On “East Atlanta Love Letter” 6lack tries to “write” his wrongs and figure out how to deal with his relationship. Much like actual letters, this album is one sided. We only hear 6lack’s perspective while remaining uncertain on how the woman feels about anything. We only learn about some of her actions, and on “Disconnect” he explains what isn’t love: “Love is not looking over shoulders/Love is you should trust what I told you/Lately it’s like you been speaking fantasy and I’m speaking reality/’Cause we got problems we ain’t getting over.”

East Atlanta culture is consistently injected within this project. There’s an interlude inspired by Young Thug, a duet with Future, a feature from Offset and references to Zone 6, Kirkwood and wings from the strip clubs.  

As a self-proclaimed student of the game, 6lack pushes beyond the bleak, unconcerned sound he created on his debut. Also, some of the harmonies and cadences are reminiscent of a not-so-eccentric version of Frank Ocean’s “Nostalgia, Ultra.” Still, it doesn’t sound too far removed from what 6lack has built.

6lack’s creates impressively witty lines that wouldn’t be expected in R&B music: They are as descriptive as they are clever. He uses a slant rhyme as an analogy for love love, flips names of R&B singers like Sza and Rita Ora’s better than most rappers have and consistently comes up with new metaphors, all while holding a note.

Much like on “Problems” off his debut album, 6lack continues to write as if he’s speaking to one person even though many are listening. On “Pretty Little Fears” J.Cole adopts this conversational style and delivers undoubtedly the best feature on the album.

While this conversational style begets extremely personal content (i.e. 6lack telling his girlfriend about the girls on his tour so she tries harder to make him happy), he surrounds it with lyrics that relate to any struggling relationship. On “Let Her Go” he internally questions the results of breaking up.

“Thugger’s Interlude” is an amazing way of shifting to a more hedonistic lifestyle that ignores the flaws in his relationship. On the song he sings, “Lately I been bumping trap music/Don’t wanna listen if I can’t dab to it/’Cause all that other shit makes me think about all the things I don’t wanna think about.” The interlude shifts to the rap portion where 6lack proves that he’s “an R&B ni**a with a hip-hop core.”

Although the songs are good, they — all but “Scriptures” — are anticlimactic. While these songs do become more braggadocious, they lack clarity compared to the rest of the album, and ultimately these tracks do not properly build into the album’s closing.

“Seasons” and “Stan” drastically abandons the romantically troubled narrative 6lack sets throughout the album. These final songs aren’t the typical sound you’d attribute to 6lack because these two songs feel promising. This new, vibrant tone is the finale in which 6lack realizes he’s had the love he’s wanted the whole time — he just has to accept it.

On the album’s closer “Stan,” 6lack sings, “People go through life not knowing, not knowing what love is/ People go through life not showing, not showing what love is/ I mean it’s like you think you know, but you don’t really know/ Then you find out, woah, You gotta learn things slow.”

6lack claims that he’s put in more than 10,000 hours of work on his music, and this album backs that statement up. In a time where hip-hop and R&B are becoming more inseparable, the battle-rapper-turned-singer has found the perfect fusion of lyricism and vulnerability. He created an album that narrates his search for the meaning of love and wondering if he has it. He captures the things he’s currently dealing with while simultaneously making it relatable to anyone looking for the light at the end of their tunnel of love.  

My Rating: 3.75/5

Featured Image: Courtesy Facebook

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Xavier Spurlock

Xavier Spurlock

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