6LACK: R&B Meets Trap Music
It is rare that R&B vocals and trap beats combine to produce such a luxurious, addictive aesthetic as that of 6LACK's (pronounced "black") music. Real name Ricardo Valez Valentine, 6LACK is an enigmatic R&B artist who released his first studio album in 2016. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, his music is laced with a Southern twang, and he uses it as a medium to convey his ambition and drive; 6LACK desires to move further and further away from the lackluster community that he grew up in.
His current releases can be compared to the works of The Weeknd and the OVO artists Roy Woods and PartyNextDoor, but it is apparent that he has created his own sub-genre of trap-infused R&B/soul that cannot be easily defined. In many ways, listening to his music makes the listener feel as if they are dipping in and out of blissful lucidity during a particularly hazy dream.
Do you already know who 6LACK is?
6LACK's debut studio album is a poignant ode to resilience and pride. It poetically delves into his feelings and personal values with only a light focus on debauchery, which is refreshing in the intoxication-ridden R&B scene. Even though he does include some of the most common symbols often heard in the genre, mentioning his "baby on the way," the popular liquor Hennessey, and his problematic ex-girlfriend, he seems to be a level of maturity above similar artists.
He certainly isn't advocating recreational drinking or drug use; albeit mentioned, narcotics are not romanticized by 6LACK and it's clear that he wants his listeners to understand that they are his coping mechanism rather than anything glamorous or desirable.
1. Never Know
I am setting myself the challenge of cherrypicking some of 6LACK's most captivating, hard-hitting songs. Top of the list must be Never Know; opening his debut album FREE 6LACK, this tune is a mellow balance between the fast-paced mumblings of PRBLMS and the dreamy R&B vocals of Learn Ya, and is incredibly beautiful to listen to.
6LACK croons "I got a baby on the way... I think about it everyday". Already, at the opening of the album, we are aware that he is not striving to stay amongst his competitors in the R&B scene, while they smoke and drink their lives away. 6LACK is going to be a father, to a baby of an unknown gender (his daughter, now born, is called Syx Rose); he has mentally detached from that scene, regarding it as slightly pitiful, and has already promised himself that he will give his baby everything that he would have wanted.
He repeats the statement:
"I ain't have nobody there so I had to tell myself when to go.
If I was waiting on you to tell me then I would never know...".
He is aware that nobody is quite on the same page as him in terms of his music, and doesn't trust any record labels or advisers to tell him "when to go" (I.e. when to take a leap of faith and step into the unknown). Instead, he is judging the scene on his own and hoping that his carefully-produced music will be well received.
With this song, he has piqued our interest and set the bar extremely high for himself, not only with his polished vocals but also with the self-respecting, motivational lyrics, all self-written. We are already awaiting his future releases, hoping that he will pioneer a new, more inspiring wave of R&B that has not been delivered in the past.
Never Know: 6LACK
The most instrumentally heavy, trap-infused track in the album, PRBLMS targets 6LACK's lazy, self-indulgent ex-girlfriend. He murmurs, with a copper-tinted richness that accentuates his slight Southern drawl, that his ex "just wakes up to eat" while hypocritically "crying that she wants to be great".
His anger at her pathetic, sedentary lifestyle subtly reveals that 6LACK is almost triggered by her, because she has settled for what he working so hard to escape. He's aware that it is extremely easy for people like him to never make it out of their hometown, lying around in bed all day. Having decided to manifest a better life for himself, 6LACK is not willing to sacrifice his desire for progress just to be with this girl.
He sings: "I wanted a ***** who was on the move.. but you wanna go***** lay", making it clear that he is irked by her and unable to overlook her lack of ambition.
In this way, PRBLMS illustrates 6LACK's harsh, aloof side. He sings "while you catch them feelings imma sip on my drank". He knows that his needy girlfriend is in love with him, but he is able to overlook this and reject her on all emotional levels, with the help of intoxication (his "drank" helps him dissociate from any guilt that breaking her heart has caused him).
PRBMS - 6LACK
3. Learn Ya
Learn Ya showcases 6LACK's ability to produce an incredibly refined-sounding R&B song while incorporating dry, intelligent lines that reveal his emotional turmoil.
He loves this girl and wants a serious relationship with her, saying "I met you in a past-life", but knows that she is taking him for granted because she is sleeping with "regulars". He believes that he's better than all those guys, saying "don't try and act like your last one did you the same way...".
Then, the Atlanta-based artist sings "I really think I need to learn ya something" (meaning that he wants to teach her that he is the one for her).
The line that resonates the most with the listener is "I'm not saying I'm the best, I'm saying that I got a lot to work with". 6LACK aid willing to admit that he has fallen short in life and has not always been the most faithful partner, but now he earnestly desires to show her that he is better than any of her other, insipid options, hoping that she will commit to him.
Learn Ya - 6LACK
What is your gender?
What is your favourite song from "FREE 6LACK"?
What is your favourite song from "FREE 6LACK"?
Do you generally like the new, trap-infused R&B (Bryson Tiller, 6LACK, Roy Woods, PartyNextDoor etc.)?
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