- 6LACK has just released his third studio album — his first in five years — “Since I Have a Lover.”
- The rapper and singer spoke to Insider about his hiatus from music after hitting “rock bottom.”
- “There’s no stone that I haven’t turned over in the process of making this one,” he said.
On the face of things, 6LACK — pronounced “Black” — has had a quiet few years.
Since the release of his second studio album, “East Atlanta Love Letter” in 2018, the Atlanta singer and rapper had, until earlier this month, put out only one project, a six-track EP called “6pc Hot.”
He’d also only appeared sporadically as a featured artist, most notably on Lil Tjay’s “Calling My Phone” in 2021, which made it to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Other than that, he was largely absent from the public eye, sharing only rare glimpses of his life on Instagram with his 2.2 million followers.
Behind closed doors, however, 6LACK has been on a journey of self-reflection and healing, starting from “rock bottom” and culminating in the release of his transformative third album, “Since I Have a Lover.”
“The bottom was just realizing that I’m about to self-sabotage everything that I’ve worked for, in my relationship, in my business, and personal life,” the 30-year-old star told Insider.
“Things that should be easy for me to talk about, that should, like, flow… that would, like, solve a million problems if I just said it… I just couldn’t bring myself to say,” he added.
“I’d handled all of my different situations in life on my own from grade school until adulthood, so it was almost like I developed this muscle that was just built on doing things completely on my own.”
6, who experienced homelessness during the early days of his music career, said that the first step in tackling his issues was “acknowledgment.”
The second was seeing a therapist.
“Once I got with my therapist, it was just like session after session of just getting to the source,” he said. “I realized that I had created a persona. I don’t talk that much. I don’t speak that much. I don’t make eye contact. I don’t do these things. I don’t go these places.”
He continued: “I had just created a facade that I didn’t have to keep up anymore. It got me through my life for a certain amount of time and, now, I can let it go and start to grow in a different way.”
The new 6 is clear for all to hear on “Since I Had a Lover.”
Veering away from the darkness of his debut album, “Free 6LACK,” and the melancholy of “East Atlanta Love Letter,” 6LACK’s third effort is noticeably more upbeat.
Sonically, “Since I Had a Lover” is driven by lucid arrangements of acoustic guitars, played by 6 himself.
“Guitar just makes me feel good,” he said. “I know just how healing it feels for me to listen to other people play the guitar, so for me, it was like, how do we implement that into my music.”
6 said he learned to play the guitar from scratch for the album, which not only helped drive him in a new direction musically but also helped his personal growth.
“Being a fish outta water and having that first practice, obviously, was a little bit crazy for me because I’m like, ‘Damn, I haven’t sucked at something in a minute,'” he said with a chuckle.
“But when you take something head on, the results make you feel good again. It makes you feel young again. It makes you feel everything that you need to feel in order to be inspired.”
Lyrically, “Since I Had a Lover” is also vastly different — and evolved — compared to 6’s previous albums.
On the Grammy-nominated “Free 6LACK,” 6 spoke of drink and drugs (“She said you a goddamn liar / I ain’t mean to say that shit girl I was goddamn high”) and violence (“Fuck around and y’all gon’ make me push a button on you”).
On “East Atalanta Love Letter,” he rapped about sex (“Got on your bodysuit, you know I’m on your ass today / Would you let me hit it thrice if I asked today?”) and his indifference to romance (“If you love me, better fuck me like you ’bout to lose your place to the girl next door”).
Now, on “Since I Had I Lover,” 6 is, as a result of his relationship with soul singer QUIN — whose voice features on a number of the songs — singing of love and long-term monogamy.
The change is drastic, but the happiness 6 exudes on the album is refreshing and makes for equally joyous listening.
“Nights might keep me up ’cause this life ain’t a walk in a park / But you know, just leap into love, wanna walk with you, baby” 6 says on “Inwood Park Hill.”
On “Testify,” he sings: “I got a thousand-mile-deep hole in my chest / My lungs can’t take these weeks of holdin’ my breath / Waitin’ for you to come back around / And love me again.”
“It’s just, like, highlighting the highs and lows of everything that we go through and everything that we experience,” 6 told Insider.
“It’s just me wanting to be a better person for myself, wanting to be a better father, wanting to be a better brother,” he added.
“These were all things on the back burner in the beginning of my career, and I made myself think that I was taking care of business because I was taking care of, like, music business. But life business is more important.”
6 said he’s never been “more happy” with the end result of a project.
“There’s no stone that I haven’t turned over in the process of making this one,” he said. “It just feels a lot freer.”
Another topic on which 6 touches in “Since I Have a Lover” is giving back.
“Who am I to capitalize without givin’ back? / We all human, but I can’t go a day not feelin’ Black,” he raps on “Preach.”
On the song’s chorus, meanwhile, he croons: “Preach, I just came to terms, realize I’m just here to teach.”
With “Since I Had a Lover” now out (it’s currently No. 24 on the Billboard 200 album chart), 6 wants to action those words before he takes the album on tour in the summer.
“I wanna figure out starting up my own nonprofit,” he said. “I wanna figure out a way to do some kind of tuition-type thing for kids that aren’t necessarily old enough to go to college and just give kids access to the things that I wanted access to when I was growing up.”
Recording equipment, computers, and even access to therapy are among the things 6 hopes he can provide for those in need.
“I wouldn’t even be where I am today without a community of people who supported me from the jump,” he said. “So, as much as we can figure out ways to give back to our community, I always wanna make it a priority. Creating music that helps other people is step one for me. But once that’s done, then it’s like, how do we get our feet on the ground, go to places and connect with people personally?”
As 6 says on “Spirited Away,” “Perfect ain’t the type of life I’m livin’ and I never will / I’m flawed, but I try.”
6LACK’s “Since I Have a Lover” is available now.