Witnessing the rise of 6LACK (pronounced “black”) has been nothing short of fulfilling. From his double-platinum and Grammy-nominated breakthrough single, “Prblms,” to featured turns on Syd and Dreezy tracks and joint singles with Ty Dolla $ign and Khalid, 6LACK has solidified his sound. Murkily soulful soundscapes filled with tropes of trap production and drowned out synths and piano dominated the profile of his debut album, Free 6LACK, and his new sophomore album, East Atlanta Love Letter.
Interestingly, this album is quite far from a “love letter.” Thematically, the album centers around the pitfalls of love and the lessons learned by 6LACK after the birth of his first child. Featuring collaborations from fellow Atlantans, Future and Offset, as well as J. Cole and Khalid, Letter is a reverb-steeped balancing act of rapping and singing. The crux of the album is the title track, a piano-laden duet with Future. The song supplies Atlanta trap music themes as metaphors for a broken romance in need of reconciliation. It’s a standout track in 6LACK’s discography, and of the best Future appearances in a hot minute.
Despite the progress in his lyricism and the stunning strength of certain individual tracks. the production of Letter is not nearly as satisfying. 6LACK seems to have become stuck in the quicksand that is trap-influenced R&B. The album jumps past cohesiveness and instead lands on monotony. By the time the record reaches its halfway point, it becomes a tedious listen. This is unfortunate because 6LACK makes great music; further experimentation with different sounds is necessary at this point in his career. There are moments on the album, like “Stan,” that provide a small beacon of hope. “Stan,” the album closer, features stunning harmonies and leans towards a more traditional R&B style of production.
East Atlanta Love Letter solidifies what we already know: 6LACK makes great music. Nevertheless, it struggles to show us a new side of him, sonically speaking.
Key Tracks: “East Atlanta Love Letter,” “Balenciaga Challenge,” “Stan”
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