Courtesy of LVRN Records

September 27, 2018

TEST SPIN | 6LACK – East Atlanta Love Letter

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East Atlanta Love Letter is exactly what it’s called — a letter. Not an email, text or DM. 6LACK’s sophomore album works to escape from what he deems love has become. He brings us back some decades, even inviting fans to an authentic drive-thru album release event. In this new project, which he tells took over two years to complete, 6LACK steps away from the kind of subject matter that we find in mainstream rap. 6LACK’s album is calming, cozy and refreshing.

We embark on 6LACK’s journey to find that he begins a player on the album’s second track, “Loaded Gun.” As he continues, we hear his voice soften when his mentality begins to shift in tracks like “Sorry” and, notably, “Seasons.” What makes this reflection on modern romanticism especially innovative and three dimensional is 6LACK’s use of the seasons to string together this multi layered concept. Slowly but surely, winter changes to summer as 6LACK uncovers what romanticism is today, what it has been previously and what he wants it to be. What seems of particular interest is the album’s release date of September 14. 9/14 by no means leads us into summer – but actually brings us into the darker months. 6LACK begins with Khalid in “Seasons,” one of the most melodic, catchy tracks of the album, “It’s been a little cold.” Temperature, as 6LACK indicates, is more of a feeling rather than a season. It’s a vibe. For regardless of where we fall in the seasonal calendar, if we remember what love is, “a beautiful summer’s calling.”

In terms of production, East Atlanta Love Letter embodies the similar eerie, yet warm and fuzzy sounds to those of 6LACK’s preceding album, FREE 6LACK. In East Atlanta Love Letter, 6LACK collaborates with none other than Future on “East Atlanta Love Letter,” J. Cole on “Pretty Little Fears” and Offset on “Balenciaga Challenge.” Collaborations are significant, yet smooth and complementary, as 6LACK gave his fans the quality content he knew they’d enjoy for seasons to come.

Pronounced by a female voice in his “Seasons” sample, “what might this life be like if we put our pride aside and let love lead the way?” 6LACK alludes to his daughter Syx throughout the album. He even featured his daughter on his Instagram page in association to the work. Unlike the overload of misogynistic content that has flooded mainstream modern hip hop, even appearing in some of 6LACK’s own work, the artist now gives voice to females all over the world with his East Atlanta Love Letter. A variety of female voices appear in samples throughout the album, addressing double standards in sex and relationships. It’s different. It’s progressive.

A few days following the album’s release, 6LACK indicated on Instagram that he created his East Atlanta Love Letter in order to help people have better conversations on love. Rather than declaring that he has all of the answers, 6LACK allowed fans to submit videos discussing their views on monogamy, as a means of propelling the kinds of conversations that he so vehemently wants his fans around the world to have. Technology has disconnected us from our feelings, as 6LACK articulates. East Atlanta Love Letter thoughtfully criticizes love in the digital world, most notably through “Disconnect,” whose production resembles damaged wires. “We’ve got a disconnect,” he sings, but music can repair that, he implies. It can reconnect us.

6LACK writes on the East Atlanta Love Letter booklet, “I wrote this album for those with difficulty expressing themselves or their love. Communication is key and over time it’s proven to be my biggest obstacle. I want you to know that just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Never give up on love because it’s the most powerful feeling you can share with someone, and if you’re feeling doubtful, know that I wrote this especially for you to listen to during those times. I hope it helps.”

 

Juliette Rolnick is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at jr798@cornell.edu.