6LACK – ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’ Album Review

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East Atlanta Love Letter is the second full-length release from the Atlanta artist Ricardo Valdez Valentine, otherwise known by his stage name 6LACK. The 13-track album is crafted with deep moods. Intense lyrics combined with melancholic production, lead listeners through the emotionally heavy thoughts of 6LACK.

6LACK jumps between singing R&B and rapping. The transition between the two genres is nicely done and further emphasizes his feelings. Fans and listeners can tell that 6LACK is growing further into his artistic creativity. He doesn’t care about what others think about his sound and he is unapologetic about his thoughts.

Heavy hitting lines scattered throughout the album further bring listeners into 6LACK’s life. He sings about the negative impact of his past decisions. There’s a hint of sadness and regret from certain actions. While at other times, he speaks about a fear of the unknown problems.

East Atlanta Love Letter talks about different aspects of life post-fame. In many ways, 6LACK seems more distraught over the level of fame and attached problems that come with it. In some ways it feels like his introspection of his situation has caused him to lose faith in love. Other times, 6LACK sounds empowered by being aware of what’s going on around him.

In “Unfair,” 6LACK thinks about mistakes that he has made that affected his thoughts on love and masculinity. The first line of the song instantly puts the listener in their feelings with, “I hope my mistakes make me less of a man // cause lately it feel like those sh*ts really can.”

“Loaded Gun” flips “Unfair” by demanding more from the chick he’s talking to. In one line he says “You better f*ck me like you’re going to lose your place to the girl next door.” For 6LACK, there’s a need to inspire who he’s with because sex is offered to him often. He refers to treating his phallus like a loaded gun. This is an interesting concept to think about as 6LACK acknowledges that his feelings stem from love.

“East Atlanta Love Letter” is a sweet and soft song that soothes your emotions. The slow melody combined with laced lyrics make for a beautiful record. Featuring Future, the two artists vibe off of each other and sound sincere about their feelings.

“Let Her Go” reflects on his complicated relationship due to groupies. This song has a smooth beat that keeps you bouncing with it. It’s definitely a powerful song to drive to, explore the city, or work out to while pondering over.

“Sorry” drops a lot of the beat and production and focuses more so on the feelings created. Using strings as the major rhythm keeper makes lyrics sound even more sincere. “Pretty Little Fears” continues after “Sorry” with minimal production to allow listeners to focus on the message. The song is heartfelt and soothing as 6LACK and J. Cole pour their hearts out.

“Disconnect” walks listeners through 6LACK’s brain as he comes to the end of a breakup. Communication and trust are two reoccurring concepts that are discussed here. The clearness in the lyrics transport listeners to the world of feelings that 6LACK is going through in the song.

“Switch” is a song about 6LACK switching bodies with someone else to escape the craziness of his own world. This song is more about 6LACK’s interaction with fame and less of love. “Thugger’s Interlude” drops most of the melancholic production and follows piano keys. 6LACK sings about things in life that brings him down. Although it is short, this is a beautiful song.

“Balenciaga Challenge” opens with a heavy beat and sick production. You can’t help but rock with it. Offset adds another level of feeling with this verse, hands down making this one of the standout tracks on the album. “Scripture” explores the confidence that 6LACK has within situations throughout his life. In one line he says, “Don’t compare me to no n*gga I’m better than.” The power that he gains from overcoming his struggle is very present. “Scripture” provides insight into how 6LACK truly feels about himself and his life.

“Nonchalant” is a slow song where 6LACK talks about his growth in the music industry. He compares himself to others in the industry that didn’t fall off or succumb to the “sophomore slump” during their second album cycle.  The mood shifts in the next track “Seasons” which is an uplifting song featuring Khalid. This song is one of the more positive tracks on East Atlanta Love Letter. Lastly, we have the track “Stan” which closes the album with a slow, but strong buildup of production and lyrics. The layered production creates an even more beautiful ending to round out the sound of East Atlanta Love Letter

The production of the album has interesting layers to create different sounds to sonically expand its soundscape. Atmospheric synths and deep bass add to the deep haunting feeling that creeps through East Atlanta Love Letter. 6LACK also scattered vocal excerpts from different women into several tracks. Rapper LightSkinKeisha, known for her hood-real approach, makes several short appearances to add to the story 6LACK tells.

6LACK’s collaborations feel like deliberate choices of complimentary partnerships. They work so well because no one is competing to outshine the other. By doing so, they amplify the entire message of each song. 6LACK’s East Atlanta Love Letter is a melodic and atmospheric R&B album that explores the darker side of life many don’t know or want to talk about. 6LACK touches on love, communication, vulnerability, masculinity, mistakes, and more. While many of the tracks are quiet, their message is loud and felt. 6LACK weaves through emotions, actions, and consequences beautifully in East Atlanta Love Letter to create a sonically rich environment that hope may sprout from.

WRITTEN BY: Carlton Rolle

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