Ricardo Valentine, better known as 6LACK (pronounced ‘black’) is a special talent. Best known for his single ‘PRBLMS’, he was named by Rolling Stone as one of ten artists to look out for in November 2016, the month of this album’s release.
On the face of it, 6LACK is just yet another rapper and singer from Atlanta, a city swarmed with trap and R&B talent such as Future and Young Thug. But 6LACK possesses notably higher vocal ability than these two, demonstrated on this slick debut project.
Taking inspiration from the spacious and atmospheric R&B sounds popularised by The Weeknd and PARTYNEXTDOOR, 6LACK delivers banger beats on tracks like ‘PRBLMS’ and ‘Ex Calling’, as well as introspective and melancholic tunes such as ‘Worst Luck’.
Lyrically, this album offers not much that hasn’t previously been discussed by others in this realm of the music world, especially in recent years, but the melodies and 6LACK’s peaceful tones make for relaxed yet sharp listening.
At only 11 tracks and 47 minutes long, this album serves as a shot of emotional resonance, flavoured with the occasional reminder that even in your sadness you can be confident. ‘Free’ has the kind of beat which envisions you riding through the city at night, enjoying any lack of responsibility you have, rather than worrying about your missteps.
‘Why you wanna love me so bad? Haven’t you heard about my miserable past?’ – a sensual message from 6LACK in ‘Worst Luck’ some of us can relate to. Even the subtlety of the warm backing vocals all over this album, majorly in ‘Learn Ya’, prove that our need to connect with ourselves, as well as with others, is layered and can always be supported by music just like this.
Elements of Frank Ocean-style instrumentals can be heard in the outro to ‘MTFU’, a clear inspiration during the creation of this project, and if 6LACK can intertwine as many people within the mystery of their own being as Frank has through his music, he can consider his music catalogue thus far to be on the way to success.
6LACK opens his album-making account with flying colours, and having signed to Interscope, is set up for even more impressive projects.
Words by Ben Kennedy