In today’s modern age of music, the line between genres seems to be incessantly disintegrating. On Friday, Sept. 14, hip-hop singer 6lack (pronounced black) released his new album “East Atlanta Love Letter.” 6lack’s sophomore album adds to his catalog of melancholy, low-pitch, unreserved rhythm and blues. Many artists before 6lack have intertwined singing with hip-hop beats, but 6lack has crafted a variation of this subgenre which he can rightfully dub his own. “East Atlanta Love Letter” fuses the hip-hop influence of East Atlanta with the passion, eloquence and vulnerability of a love letter to create 47 minutes of stellar music.
6lack’s “East Atlanta Love Letter” centers around the complicated realities of relationships and romance, but 6lack croons about more than just these themes. He transmits unfiltered honesty from the mind of a troubled lover and his monotone voice lacks zeal, creating the feeling of a heartfelt conversation. From the first lines of the album where he proclaims “hope my mistakes don’t make me less of a man,” 6lack establishes this theme of confessional introspection. This melancholy mood of repentance makes songs like the delicate ballad “Sorry” irresistible.
The hip-hop artist’s song “Nonchalant” possesses this same mellow tone, yet rather than crooning about romance, 6lack boastfully opens up about his work ethic and skill. The song’s freestyle vibe reveals the hip-hop influence of 6lack’s East Atlanta roots. His selection of artists to feature in his album also reveals this hip-hop background, for the big name artists which contributed to this album are all prominent stars of modern hip-hop. These features sound effortless as these artists merely adapt their specialties to 6lack’s distinct sound and vibe. “Pretty Little Fears” is an excellent example of this chemistry as 6lack sounds exactly where he belongs rapping alongside hip-hop juggernaut J. Cole.
The remarkable production on this album accompanies the various shades of 6lack which appear through the listeners speakers. The variety of drums, strings and synthesizers which construct 6lack’s background allow him to flawlessly transition from gentle ballads to aggressive soliloquies and his use of skits helps to further create the ambience of a hip-hop album. While he does not features any female vocalists, the appearances of female characters in these skits help establish the album’s love letter theme.
I love this album. I have already listened to it numerous times from start to finish without any skips. Every song transitions so well into the next one. Even though the album is a hodgepodge of 6lack’s unique R&B, the vulnerable piano ballad “Disconnect” sounds just as at home as the radio friendly track “Seasons.” In his song “Loaded Gun,” 6lack accurately explains the album’s cover art: “eastside on my back, daughter on my back.” His success as a hybrid R&B rapper does not erase the fact that 6lack, an ordinary man from East Atlanta, is still trying to balance life as a new father with the demands of his work life.