One of our favourite hip-hop discoveries this year is emerging Atlanta artist 6lack (“black”), signed to LVRN (Love Renaissance), the collective also behind fellow ATLien Raury.
After building steady online following predominantly via Soundcloud, the timing couldn’t have been better to finally unveil his debut release Free 6LACK, which includes Ex-Calling and PRBLMS.
Real name Ricardo Valentine, 6lack’s backstory already has the taste of legend in it: the artist, now 24, was signed to a toxic record deal in 2011 that trapped him until he began to work with the LVRN collective. His debut release is subsequently a response and reflection on the past few years. “I wanted to make a statement that I’m free from my older relationships and I’m free from all ways of thinking and my old feelings,” he told Billboard.
Focusing on his audience, he also speaks about what he hopes to convey on the new album. “I make sure it’s related to whatever I’m dealing with but I wanna word it in a way that whoever’s listening can take something from it… I just want people to learn something from my music and ultimately feel better when they listen to it. There’s not really a target person, just more so the target feeling… I craft it in a way that it might sound familiar, popular, radio or club friendly but when you actually listen to the words, it’s actually food [for thought] and you can actually take something from it.”
Valentine also shows great insight for an artist on his debut album, explaining his understanding of the industry and the peril of having a hit single. “I’ve seen what it’s like for people to basically be built into something and to not really have an identity or a personality for themselves. I know once you make a hit record, it’s kind of always expected of you to have a follow-up. I’ve seen people become songs and I’ve rarely seen fans know a song and not know a person, or know a lyric and not know a face, or know a hook but not know that person from another person they saw in the street… people should know who you are and you should never become a product before you’re a human being.”
Speaking about his album cover, he explained the meaning behind it to Pigeons and Planes: “As big and vicious as a bear can be, a bear also has grounding qualities. They’re peaceful in a way, and they have qualities that are healing in a way.
“I wanted it to be powerful. I wanted it to be aggressive, but I also wanted it to be calming. I want people to feel something. Regardless of how personal it can be at times, and how intense the message is, it can still give you a soothing feel.”