Many of life’s difficulties lie in the constant tug-of-war that we experience daily. One of the few ways to cope with this is to find balance. Better said than done, finding the proper balance is something that most people never truly achieve. As a creator, the struggle between the love for your craft and maintaining stable relationships in your personal life; often it is family, friends and loved ones that suffer, rather than the art. 6LACK’s second studio album, East Atlanta Love Letter, perfectly embodies the battles that plenty of people face, not only as entertainers, but as men.
Much has changed since the release of 6LACK’s debut in 2016. Fame, fatherhood and failing loves all played a pivotal role in the construction of East Atlanta Love Letter. The three previously stated reasons for the creation of the album, also served as its main themes. The album’s introductory track, “Unfair,” sets the tone for the entire project. The love he has for his music is clashing with the love he has for his significant other; and this song shows both his growth as a musician as well as his growth as a man. “Loaded Gun,” is more than just a song bragging about a young male’s sexual prowess, it also gives some insight to the problems and sacrifices that come with newfound stardom in a heartless industry. Even one of the album’s more menial tracks still contains an underlying message.
The 14-song LP features guest appearances from Future, J. Cole, Offset and Khalid; with each artist adding a different layer. On the album’s title track, a duet with fellow East Atlanta native, Future, they go back and forth over a simplistic but effective backdrop. The J.Cole assisted “Pretty Little Fears” has one of the most mature concepts on the album. More often than not, as men we fail to recognize the obstacles and trials that women face, especially when it comes to relationships. 6LACK & Cole talk about understanding some of their plight, as well as promising to provide comfort in the meantime. “Disconnect,” “Sorry” and “Let Her Go” are all very introspective, and the admission of one’s flaws and shortcomings shows the vulnerability of someone longing for love but accepting that the situation may not be ideal.
“I’m a R&B nigga with a Hip-Hop core…” is a quote that resonates with 6LACK’s true supporters. On songs such as “Scripture” and “Nonchalant,” Ricardo Valentine makes sure that his listeners, both new and old, understand the he is not only a singer but a lyricist, and a solid one at that. The album’s first single, “Switch,” is built for radio; and also contains uncredited vocals from the scorching-hot Ty Dolla $ign. 6LACK’s versatility as an artist and his ability to stay in his own lane is what puts him in a higher tier than many of his contemporaries.
Some of highest-quality and most creative sections of East Atlanta Love Letter come from female artists LightskinKeisha, Tierra Whack, and Jaycina Almond, the mother of his child. Their poetic dialogue at the conclusions of “Let Her Go,” “Balenciaga Challenge” (ft. Offset) and “Seasons,” give the album more character, as well as refreshing point of view from the opposite sex. The album’s final song, “Stan,” is a positive note on a project the focuses so much on heartbreak and regret. 6LACK realizes that loyalty and unconditional support are traits that are priceless. Not only does he expect this from his mate, but he also promises to reciprocate it, fully.
6LACK manages to avoid the sophomore slump with a solid album. East Atlanta Love Letter’s emotional tones and stellar production creates a formula that will continue to work for LVRN’s flagship artist. His progression as a musician is prevalent throughout this project, and the front cover is the perfect representation of this. The question for 6LACK now is: “What’s next?”