Catherine Gagulasvili copy editor
Methodical madness is key when creating a substantial art form. Artists either inhibit their sanity, attempting to expound on life and find a deeper, darker meaning. Or, they bask in the shallow aspects of life, releasing music with as little density as their unexamined lives. The former approach is one that produces chillingly intense musical pieces, an accomplishment that is no small feat. Atlanta-born rapper 6lack (pronounced “black”), formerly known as Ricardo Valdez Valentine, is fairly new to the music industry but has been able to establish himself as an artist capable of using methodical madness to his musical advantage.
6lack released his sophomore album, “East Atlanta Love Letter,” on Friday, Sept. 14. This album is, by far, his best work. His chilling voice and minimalistic beats formulate a hauntingly beautiful album. 6lack’s debut album in 2016, “Free 6lack,” introduced him as superior singer/rapper. Succeeded by “East Atlanta Love Letter,” it is clear the 6lack is here to stay as one of the leading R&B/Hip-Hop musicians.
“East Atlanta Love Letter’s” first track is “Unfair,” starting with a blood-curdling beat, followed with 6lack’s muted voice, is a ballad on the struggles of a passionate love. This song is arguably his most emotional and personal. With lyrics like, “Hope my mistakes don’t make me less of a man, but lately it feels like them sh*ts really can,” 6lack sets the premise for which the remainder of his album is set. He preaches the aches of lost loves and lost opportunities; although there is something more in his lyrics.
In another ballad speaking on the troubles of love, “Disconnect,” 6lack projects his natural talent in writing rhymes and forming well-established lyrics. While “Unfair” is a demonstration of 6lack’s capabilities regarding lyrical genius and vocal abilities, especially the ability to hit nearly falsetto notes, “Disconnect” is a classic 6lack song, sticking to his usual slow tempo and deep pitch. It is reminiscent of his hit from “Free 6lack,” “PRBLMS.”
Taking an aside from his revelations on love, 6lack focuses on his adolescent life and the steps that got him to where he is today in “Scripture.” One of the only songs in which he strays from the R&B feel of the album, 6lack raps about how he encountered gun violence in his teen years and how it changed his perspective on the world. Concluding the song in the outro, 6lack addresses how “if I don’t rap anywhere on this, people are gon’ hate me.” Although he established himself as a rapper on his debut album, the R&B feel to his sophomore album feels more natural and less forced of a genre for 6lack. Clearly talented in both rapping and singing, he is best able to show off these skills when adhering to an R&B genre.
The only song reminiscent of a pop song is “Switch.” Released as a single on June 22, “Switch” very quickly became a fan favorite. Other impressive songs include “East Atlanta Love Letter,” feat. Future, “Pretty Little Fears,” feat. J.Cole and “Seasons,” feat. Khalid. To say this album is impressive would be an understatement. On the Sept. 23 release of the weekly Billboard statistics, “East Atlanta Love Letter” peaked at #1 in R&B album and #3 on the Billboard 200.
Highlights gives this album 5/5 stars. “East Atlanta Love Letter” is available on Apple Music and Spotify.