Over a month since its release, and 6lack’s, sophomore album, East Atlanta Love Letter is still everything I needed and more. Fueled by vulnerabilities, pain, happiness within the cycles of love, 6lack delivers his most refreshing, relatable body of work yet. As a listener and/or fan, every emotion that you can feel, you’re able to wholeheartedly feel it. Add the mysterious charisma of 6lacks shadowy persona and the album creates such a vibe that moves each and every single listener who plays the project.
East Atlanta Love Letter gives listeners an even deeper look into the mystique that is “6lack,” and truly exposes each and every layer to this incredible talent. The album holds only 14 songs and contains features from the likes of artists such as J.Cole, Khalid, Offset, and even Mr. Future Hendrix. Now with his own child, 6lack finds himself analyzing, evaluating, and ultimately critiquing his life choices and experiences that have led him to where he is throughout the entire album. He is immensely transparent with his life as he tackles his wrongdoings and uses them to reach the top and triumph over each and every one of them. The feel of the album, while a bit dark and eerie, shines a light that can be felt by any and every listener. The album is very raw and tells a true story of the cycles of love that people regularly deal with in relationships. It’s concrete and completely cohesive. The album as a unit is literally one of the best efforts of the year (so far) but there are some personal favorites that simply must be acknowledged.
The tone is set immediately with “Unfair.” 6lack relays his truth within the track. With such eeriness & melancholy, 6lack sings his heart out about his mistakes. He hopes and prays that although his wrongs cannot be righted, they don’t make him less than a man. It’s as if he used the intro as a personal diary to say what is on his mind. He doesn’t want to fight or even be at war with his lover, but in order for this to work, they have to equally want to solve this.
“Loaded Gun” finds 6lack with a more cockier aura as he sings to his girl telling her if she really wants him she better prove it through her… physical actions. He’s feeling himself to the point he even raps, “But I’m going for they spouses / I can pull ’em with the flip phone.” He consistently puts East Atlanta on his raps through his flow and delivery. 6lack reflects over the expectations many have set for him but basically how he shakes them off and lives up to the beat of his own drum. He boasts about taking care of his family, health and himself overall. He ends the song reminding the listeners of what’s important to him – his one lady, his one baby, and his love for them is the reasons that he rights each and every wrong. The flow is very… Atlanta and the roots are felt in 6lack’s flow for sure.
One of my utmost favorite songs on this album arrives with the album titled track, “East Atlanta Love Letter,” featuring fellow Zone 6, East Atlanta, Georgia native, Mr. Future Hendrix himself. The production here is very dramatic and slower than Loaded Gun. Future begins with a few adlibs before 6lacks soothing voice begins. The wordplay is so vivid as he compares his lover to cocaine as he says, “I remix your life like cut cocaine and re-rock / Aint been wanting much lately, no, cause you’re my detox.” The wordplay is clever and it relays the message that his lover’s passion and presence takes away whatever urges that usually overtake him to the point that she becomes the drug. She is his true detox. The chorus is truly mesmerizing as the two come together singing about making love to their lovers. It is the perfect infusion of Trap and R&B and literally creates this timeless effect that listeners will simply not get enough of. It’s intoxicating. Think of a glass of wine that continuously refills itself as it empties. 6lack’s charming voice, as well as Future’s trap charisma, come together and constantly pours into the listener as they continue to play the record. The production is hypnotic and makes you feel as if you are floating on a cloud. The two ask their lovers, “Who will love you better,” and they even bring the East Atlanta appeal as they tell their women that their words “hit like a Draco.” It’s crazy how well their voices mesh well and I truthfully need more Future / 6lack collaborations in the future.
My next standout arrives at “Sorry.” Now, this record truly does something to the soul. You literally don’t even have to currently be dealing with anything or even be in a relationship to FEEL 6lack and his passion. In my opinion, it’s one of the best songs on the album and one of his best songs period. Sorry showcases a truly transparent and VULNERABLE 6lack as he sings about his insecurities, his wrongs, and his flaws. He begins simply singing that he hates to even say sorry, he knows he’s done the wrong but there has to be another way to communicate it then saying sorry. He admits to his foolish doings but now he must check himself because he can’t ignore what he’s done any longer. He uses his craft and voice to take the pain and wrong that he’s created and places it into his music. He passionately sings to his lover sharing, “Sitting here patching myself up / Crying over what’s left, cause / Without you I ain’t sh*t, but no pressure / Guess I gotta learn my lesson.” Using that skilled pen, he creates a story with his words and paints a picture with his voice. The listeners can picture this conversation he is having with his lady. This is one of the best moments of the album! He uses the song to say sorry because he hates saying sorry. He spills the things he can’t say onto the track and lets the truth shine through the evil he’s caused.
The J.Cole-assisted “Pretty Little Fears” is literally the next top favorite for me. Imagine the feeling you get, whether it be an activity, person, place, or memory, when you think about it, you’re instantly smiling and warm inside. This is how “Pretty Little Fears” makes you feel. It warms the core and it literally makes you happy. The irony in this record is, it appears to show 6lack singing about a relationship that failed (more than likely due to his part), while Cole seems to possibly be rapping about his relationship with his wife. 6lack sets the tone with imagery of him chasing this past failed love (as she must be with someone else) but he continues to pursue her anyway. He tries to remind her of the physical pleasure he’s provided her and can continue to provide her. As the song continues, 6lack gets very raw and descriptive describing the passion and intensity between the two as they engage in their encounters. 6lack’s chorus acts a build up to bring Cole in and the momentum immediately shifts as Cole gets directly to the point flowing about his relationship to this woman.
Cole’s entire verse literally creates goosebumps as he uses clever wordplay, imagery, and much symbolism to show the love he possesses for this woman. He begins admiring his lover’s strength to be open and vulnerable although the past has been bumpy and chaotic. “You the flower that I gotta protect / To keep alive in the winter time, aye, don’t you die yet.” He gracefully acknowledges how she is still his best friend and his family although she is his love of his life. The entire verse is literally one of the most heartwarming verses I have heard in a long time. He describes her as “God-sent,” and even thanks the Lord that he created her with such detail and perfection. He affirms to her that not only does he raise her but she raises him and that she can confide in him. Cole is honored to know and love her and he makes sure he acknowledges it throughout the entire verse. My favorite line arrives when Cole goes, “I’m your dog, ears perk up at the sound of your name.” He is in literal awe of this woman and he wants her to feel every word of it. It is truly one of the best moments on the project. He even compares his relationship with his lover to a relationship with God. It is truly one of the purest moments in the album.
“Disconnect” is yet another standout track and it is one of the most relatable track. “You think I don’t know when to call it quits / How could I not know after all this here.” The song tells this story of 6lack and this woman trying to fix the pieces but it’s not working out for them; something is simply not connecting for them and it’s just not a good time for them and this relationship. He’s reaching the end point, he does not want to cause more pain and trouble to her, but no matter how much they try to work it out it just won’t work. They are going to break up and it’s simply how it must be. The production is somber and gloomy to match the 6lack’s delivery. His voice is very clear, strong, yet still haunting.
“Thugger’s Interlude” is one of the most serene, peaceful interludes I have ever heard in my life. Mediating on playing trap songs and practically any song that makes him want to “dab,” 6lack really uses the interlude to look back on himself. He sings about using Young Thug and Trap music to keep him from “going under” as he sings. He uses the trap appeal to help him avoid and suppress the true feelings dwelling within him. He uses this as a distraction to keep him from thinking about the matters that he truly does not want to think about. It beautifully flows into “Balenciaga Challenge,” featuring Offset. 6lack effortless flips the switch and brings the rapper side of his artistry out. The flow is swift and subtle but still makes a statement as he makes it known that he is a force to be reckoned with. He gives honor to God rapping that everything he’s received is because of him. Offset delivers his trademark flow and gives a decent verse with some slight imagery and wordplay.
Lastly, “Scripture” is another successful rap effort by 6lack that makes for a great listen. On the record, he reflects on his past experiences and moments that have molded him to be who he is today. “Imagine if I never went through what I went through…,” 6lack states. Over ghostly production, he begins rapping about his hunger for more and his refusal to stop until he claims what he wants. He thinks back to a period of not having anything at all to being on the top of his game, having his needs met, and being financially stable. He chin-checks everyone asking for handouts and comparing him to others he feels that he’s “better than.” His demeanor is confident and his words are very serious as he raps. He raps about feeling like an industry veteran all though he is a new artist on the scene. This is one of the most serious tracks on the album as he flashes back to having a gun placed in his face. At that moment, he thinks about his life, his unborn child, and dying before his child even could even grow up. He then raps about the massive car crash that could have ended his life. Throughout his trials and tribulations, he’s been able to triumph and continue to radiate his light on the world. He acknowledges God yet again and raps about his strengthened relationship with Him.
East Atlanta Love Letter not only does an amazing job telling the story of the various phases of life and love, but it is one of the most transparent records that have been released this year. 6lack channels every emotion within in him and lays it all out on the project. Every song is meaningful and impactful. At such an early point in his career, he’s already mastered creating timeless music that will continue to be relevant years from now. This album shows 6lack’s growth as a man, a new father, and a lover. He acknowledges his faults, owns them and utilizes them as opportunities for growth and progression. When it comes to artists who really have the skill to both sing and rap equally well, his name should be mentioned. His versatility helps to escalate his rank amongst other artists in the game. His wordplay, complexity, and delivery further distinguish him and truly make him a THREAT in this industry.
Thank you for YET another amazing project, 6lack!