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Album Review: East Atlanta Love Letter by 6LACK
September 17, 2018
While the city of Atlanta, Ga. may be better known for its premiere crop of popular trap artists such as 21 Savage, Lil Baby, Young Thug and Migos, 6LACK (pronounced “black”) flashes a one-two punch of hard hitting bars and melodic R&B drawl on his sophomore album, East Atlanta Love Letter.
Released almost two years after his debut album, FREE 6LACK, East Atlanta Love Letter plays out as a sequel of sorts that perfectly plays into 6LACK’s dark, loner motif. Linking up with fellow Atlanta stars Future and Offset, as well as a veteran of the game J. Cole, for three features on 14 tracks, this album relies less on star power and more on sharp delivery, smooth production and 6LACK’s fluid vocals to carry it over the top.
One of the album’s lead singles, “Switch,” dives into the struggles of dealing with newfound fame, as well as the pressure that comes with being a successful rapper in today’s world. 6LACK muses over the idea of running away and escaping the spotlight that accompanies stardom when he pines, “I’m thinking I should speed it up/To get away from all the media/I’m human, don’t you think I’ve had enough?”
In contrast, the album’s second single, “Nonchalant,” finds 6LACK embracing his accomplishments in spite of feelings of insecurity over whether or not people can truly feel his sound. He raps with a straight delivery, unfazed and locked in, about the work he’s put in to get to the top when he says, “Somehow I still find the time/To care a little more about my rhymes/To care a little more about my peers/To think a little less about my fears/To care a little more about your ears.” 6LACK also throws praise to New Orleans’ very own Lil Wayne, admiring the rapper’s fortitude through his own personal struggles rapping, “I know I gotta be a rock like Dwayne/So, I’m tryna be a rock like Dwayne, Carter, rebirth.”
6LACK does not shy away from throwing thanks back to the city that shaped him as a person, as well as the music he makes. The album’s title track, “East Atlanta Love Letter” featuring Future, shows both rappers trading bars about their respective hustles and how they made it out of the streets that raised them. Both rappers flow over the chorus singing, “It’s an East Atlanta love letter/Who gon’ love better?/Nobody.”
An appropriately titled track “Thugger’s Interlude” sends a backhanded compliment to one of today’s most popular Atlanta rappers, Young Thug. 6LACK discusses how he’s only been listening to Thug’s cold-hearted bars just to keep his focus off of the deeper things going on in his life, which many can relate to. “Tryna keep myself from going under/I been listening to Young Thugger,” 6LACK sings over soft piano chords, facing the reality that he can only hide for so long. He then continues, “Lately I been bumping trap music/Don’t wanna listen if I can’t dab to it/’Cause all that other ish makes me think about all the things I don’t wanna think about.”
Overall, East Atlanta Love Letter is a strong sophomore effort, and only raises expectations for the promising young artist. Clocking in at under 50 minutes, this album may breeze by during the first few listens, so give it a few chances to really capture your attention, allowing you to take in every emotion, lyric, beat and brag for the best possible experience.