There is a particular kind of joy which comes with discovering a new artist; a joy that is amplified when that new artist offers a totally fresh, different sound. 6LACK (pronounced ‘black’) has given me this joy. Though 6LACK would appear to characterise his own music as R&B or soul, his hip-hop and grunge influences tell a slightly different story. The fact that 6LACK finds himself perhaps sounding most similar to another relatively unknown artist, Johnny Rain, is as much a testament to his unique sound as anything else, especially considering that the similarities there are still vague.
His latest release, Loyal, sees 6LACK switching flows and vocal delivery over a dark and ominous ambient beat. Soundcloud R&B or soul rarely sounds this fresh, or this urgent, and the pained tinge to his vocals add a remarkable sincerity to the track, making it that much more powerful.
Ex Calling is a further testament, speaking volumes for 6LACK in terms of his realness, range and ability to craft a story through his music. The powerful, relatable Ex Calling is a song which allows 6LACK to communicate his personality and accessibility to his growing audience.
But 6LACK’s best work this early in his career is saved for PRBLMS, where 6LACK carries his vocals over a spooky beat. While a track this dark and moody wouldn’t always carry mainstream appeal, his smooth, confident crooning absolutely allows for crossover attention. While a lesser artist may have faded among the shadow of a haunting, alluring beat like this, 6LACK not only rises to the occasion, but conquers it.
To be clear, 6LACK is not exactly a totally new, fresh name in music. As detailed on a note titled “Here’s to being free” on his website, in 2011 he signed to “an independent record label owned by a popular artist at the time.” However, he struggled against the constraints of label direction and expectations, revealing, “They wanted me to just be a hit song and I wanted to show them I was more than that.” For three years he was forced to move “in secrecy,” including putting out music on Soundcloud, although it was technically not permitted in his contract. Since then, 6LACK has found a new home with LVRN (Love Renaissance), an Atlanta-based management company who have thus far been working with Raury – this is now their second official signing.
Now, 6LACK seems poised to take his lessons and talent to grasp the spotlight – in his way. If his rework of PARTYNEXTDOOR’s Break from Toronto (re-titled for 6LACK as Break from Atlanta), initially released in 2014, is anything to go by, mainstream success and recognition is by no means far fetched.
Releasing track after track of solid tunes, as well as having a new team and fresh label working behind him, 6LACK’s time may well be here. We’ll just let the man speak for himself:
tell a friend. nobody likes to be late 🎈
— bear (@6LACK) May 23, 2016