The R&B singer explores fatherhood and love lost on his very personal sophomore album.
It’s very rare that new artists come into the game with a fresh sound. 6lack’s persona was once shrouded in mystery and his face was hidden behind the mop of dreads he donned on his head. Now he’s peeling back the layers of his character for his second solo release. 6lack introduced himself to us two years ago on his debut album Free 6lack, but now he returns with his latest body of work. East Atlanta Love Letter is a vulnerable and honest album that validates his residence amongst the new generation of Hip-Hop and R&B. 6lack, now embracing his well-developed sound, delivers a masterpiece that’s arguably one of the best album releases this year.
6lack’s growth from his first album until now has shown the time and effort he’s been putting into perfecting his craft. Free 6lack was a symbol of his freedom, but also a chance for him to figure out what his sound actually was. Debut albums can be career-defining moments for some artists, but for those with a little less buzz, like 6lack, they’re a chance to make a lasting impression. His debut was his musical breakthrough into an artistic zone where he felt he belonged. Similar to its follow-up, Free 6lack was filled with moody instrumentation that allowed his voice to shine though. His trance-like vocals mixed with eloquent rhymes was a play on the trap R&B sound. 6lack was exploring his sound and what worked for him on his first album, but this time around he’s much more poised in his style. He’s venturing in the same lane as some of his peers (PARTYNEXTDOOR, Bryson Tiller, Tory Lanez) but he’s cultivated his own version of the new R&B sound. Reassured in his niche for East Atlanta Love Letter, 6lack effortlessly showcases the style he knows best.
“I’m an R&B n***a with a Hip-Hop core.” – 6lack
The groove he found for this album translated well into the final product. Instead of focusing on singles, 6lack honed in on creating a cohesive album that flowed naturally. A lot of artists tend to get caught up in the hype of having a radio single to promote their album but run into the same problem – the single doesn’t fit the album. East Atlanta Love Letter is like a puzzle where all the pieces fit together perfectly. The gloomy theme that weighs over each track is so prevalent throughout the entire project that the harmony is undeniable.
The emotions and lyrics of East Atlanta Love Letter hit you like a break-up album, but really it’s a moody palette of tracks enveloped in hypnotic vocals. The album starts off with “Unfair” already luring listeners in with the angelic sounds of the piano and his enchanting voice. The next few tracks are consistent with the tone of the album following up with “Loaded Gun,” an up-tempo standout with an addicting beat – this is where his mix of Hip-Hop influence gets blended into the music. “East Atlanta Love Letter” is another beautiful shining star where Future gets recruited, channeling his “HNDRXX” persona, to help deliver an ode to their hometown.
“It’s an East Atlanta love letter, Who gon’ love better?”
The rest of the album takes us on a smooth ride of emotions that addresses some of 6lack’s more vulnerable moments on songs like “Disconnect” and “Sorry.” The sounds of the album essentially capture the essence of love lost while also touching on themes of fame, failed relationships, and his newfound fatherhood. Other standout tracks like “Pretty Little Fears,” “Seasons,” and “Stan” are just a few of the album’s songs that enhance the different realms 6lack courageously explores. The deeply personal album has the capacity to stand the test of time and right now stands to be his best work to date.
The maturity he exudes on this second offering is nothing short of a commendable strive to asserting his place in music. 6lack offered one of the most personal experiences for his listeners revealing his trials and tribulations. The “heartbreak hotel” mood for the album really brought the emotions to life. He encouraged his fans to join him on his journey, diving deeper into the persona that we didn’t get a chance to see on his debut.
6lack is a low-key artist in general so to hear him speaking on his struggles and innermost thoughts makes the album that much more real. His authenticity bleeds out on each track of this album, opening up his world in a similar fashion to a love letter. 6lack has made his way to mastering his niche and his growth shows beautifully on this album.
“Ever since I jumped off the porch, I knew that I would grow to be the boy. The boy grew up to be the man.”
East Atlanta Love Letter is a brilliant R&B release that exhibits raw reflections of intimacy, relationships, fear, fatherhood, and the overwhelming world of fame. A luxe manifestation of 6lack’s world comes to life on each and every song. The features are strategically placed on select tracks that mold to the talent of each artist he recruited. 6lack wasn’t on the radar as a game-changer this year, but he proved that he has much more to offer us now with his sophomore release.