Guys like 6LACK deserve attention. I was one of many to sleep on his debut. Though once it finally appeared on my radar a month later, I saw promise. 6LACK’s single “Ex Calling” peaked my interest. Despite ripping the beat of Future’s “Perky’s Calling,” the newcomer’s version still slapped. During the time between his first two albums I didn’t know what to expect. Even though I enjoyed Free 6LACK I seldom found myself returning to the entire project. Currently I keep “PRBLMS,” “MTFU” and “Never Know” in rotation. His atmospheric brand of R&B sets multiple moods — great for chill parties and midnight joyrides. Due to his tweener vocals it’s hard to place 6LACK in a genre. Sure, R&B works. However, he raps and sings at the same time. I compare it to what Rihanna and Ariana Grande have been experimenting with lately. Except here everything basically blends together.
As much as I wanted to love this album, I simply cannot. It’s almost impossible. Although 6LACK maintains a contemporary alt-R&B sound, he differs from his peers. He keeps a low profile, credits his influences and refuses to sell out. All those I appreciate. Many current black music stars can’t wait to shove their accomplishments down your throat. From the album cover above, he seems like a responsible dude just looking to support his loved ones. While that is a sentiment I can get behind, East Atlanta Love Letter contains minimal noteworthy material. The singles leading up to this release, “Switch” and “Nonchalant,” go in one ear and out the other. It is difficult to know when one song ends and another begins here. Additionally, these instrumentals cover similar bases, failing to bring out the best in 6LACK. Which leads me to this Atlanta product’s vocal delivery.
His voice, much like this album, features little to no variation. As I mentioned earlier, he raps and sings simultaneously. It isn’t necessarily bad to put this style into practice. Nevertheless, the blurred line it creates is one of utter monotony. These tracks feel more like chores than songs. Because I respect 6LACK I want to give him my undivided attention. Following a solid debut, he deserves at least that. Yet the end result leaves a forgettable mark, like a footprint inside of a footprint. Despite some notable names such as J. Cole, Future and Offset, this album neglects the type of songwriting necessary to stay relevant. None, and I mean none, of these songs will live past this month. If I had to choose one to praise, it would be “Seasons,” featuring Khalid. I’m not a fan of Khalid. But “Seasons” has a pretty nice beat.
Also, the instrumentals of “Let Her Go” and “Balenciaga Challenge” were solid. They attempted to set themselves apart. However, 6LACK dragged them back down to normalcy. Now, let me be clear: This album is not a complete dumpster fire. Or anything close to that. It merely leaves no trace of a focused tune or collective purpose. This is just another album. I like 6LACK. And I hope he bounces back with something more memorable next time. For now, though, East Atlanta Love Letter is the most nondescript mainstream album of 2018. Even Tory Lanez had a few strip club bangers to his name. I don’t need 6LACK to conform. I need him to convince me that he has a higher level to tap into. He has a lane and a sturdy fan base. He should be proud, but not content. Fans might look elsewhere with a repeat performance like this.