Album Review: 6lack ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’
A meditation on the fragility of rigid southern masculinity, as well as the vulnerability found in love.
Atlanta-born 6lack’s debut album, Free 6lack, serves as journal on how his artistry came to fruition after being bounded to a sketchy contract for over five years.
The question that came with his second album was if it would match the vulnerability presented in his first — a vulnerability often lacking in hip-hop. East Atlanta Love Letter, released in early October, touches on the fragility around rigid southern masculinity, as well the vulnerability found in love, platonic and otherwise.
The record proves there is power in showcasing your truth. His raw and unsealed lyrics focus on his own experience, while correlating it back to his fans. Whether you’re in your bed re-evaluating your own life, or listening to the album ‘in your bag’ late night in the car, he does a fantastic job weaving everyday experiences and emotions into the work.
The album begins with “Unfair,” which sets the atmosphere of anguish and desperation. “It’s hard to say it so I write a song / But that ain’t equal to me rightin’ wrong/ Stuck between a rock and a hard place.” That lyric sets the tone of this love letter. With breaks in the bass of the song, the lyrics question how the rest of the album is going to follow.
Even though his purpose is to exclaim and explain his emotions, he also manages to create a multi-perspective explanation of how his heart has ended up in this condition.
6lack challenges the idea that relationship woes are one sided.
This album is not only for the heartbreaker, but the heartbroken. The heartache flows through multiple perspectives: “Let Her Go” and “Sorry” are prime examples.
The uptempo “Let her Go” invites you to dance, but take a step back and listen as well: “If I let her go / Will I regret it? / Will I forget it? / That’s something I don’t.” That’s the heartbreaker ponder the effects of his choices, positive or negative.
He spends the rest of the record meditating on the consequences of his decisions, while constantly reminding that the heartbreaker can be hurt as well.
“Disconnect” illuminates a rough patch in a relationship, or post-breakup. “Love is not looking over shoulders / Love is you should trust what I told you / Lately it’s been like you speaking fantasy and I’m speaking reality / ‘Cause we got problems we ain’t gettin’ over / I think we breakin’ up”
It’s easy to visualize what he has been going through, but just as easily relate to the events that led him there. He pours the entirety of his emotions into it, emphasizing that love may never be enough, and that sometimes you have to move on.
6lack is a soul artist in every sense of the word. The last lyrics “Scripture” plays out like mini-philosophy: “I’m an R&B n***** with a hip hop core.”
East Atlanta Love Letter, not only challenges the spectrum of masculinity in hip hop, but magnifies heartache in a real, sensible way. His lyrics make you feel as though you are holding the pen as he writes this love letter.
He is clearly a force to be reckoned within hip hop.
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