East Atlanta Love Letter is out on Interscope Records

It’s no secret Atlanta produces some of the best musicians in the world and 27-year-old alt-R&B rapper 6LACK isn’t an exception, he’s a frontrunner. Since dropping his Gold-certified debut album, FREE 6LACK in 2016, the artist born Ricardo Valdez Valentine has gone from being on the verge of “doing something but not ever really following through” to taking every necessary step to become the hip-hop/R&B megastar he is today.
 
Much of the growth we discussed in our exclusive interview with 6LACK is perfectly captured on his 2018 sophomore effort, East Atlanta Love Letter. The revelatory second album, which spent two weeks atop Billboard’s R&B Charts upon its release, and features the GRAMMY-nominated track “Pretty Little Fears” with J. Colefinds an artist examining and accepting the extreme transitions in his life with a jaded but optimistic view. From fatherhood to superstardom, 6LACK’s moment is now, he knows it, and he’s owning it.

6LACK @ Lollapalooza, Polaroid by Matt Torres/Soundazed
We caught up with 6LACK moments before his iconic main stage performance at Lollapalooza to discuss his new “Seasons” music video with Khalid, his sophomore effort East Atlanta Love Letter, working with Drop4Drop, and the first mention of his highly-anticipated third album. Read on below for the full scoop.



INTERVIEW

You’re taking over the main stage at Lollapalooza in a few hours. Are you hyped for today?

I’m a little bit hyped and a little bit calm. I played the festival a few years ago but I was on one of the smaller stages. To move up and to play a bigger stage is a really great feeling and it should be way more fun show today.

A lot has changed for you since FREE 6LACK. How have you balanced being a father with your booming career?

In the best way that I can possibly do it. In the very beginning, it was very patchy just trying to figure out my schedule, what I could do or what I could cancel, figuring out what could possibly back to bite me later, things like that. I ended up canceling a European tour at one point – but you just figure it out as you go and now I’ve been able to spend more time with my daughter and we’ve just been moving like that, so it’s now been getting pretty smooth.

On top of that, you recently donated to Drop4Drop – in turn helping a village of over 1,000 people in Uganda. Can you tell us a little about those efforts?

Drop4Drop finds places around the world that don’t have access to fresh water, places where people have to walk more than a few miles just to find water or a working well. They find these villages in need, install these water wells that serve an entire community, and through that, it can help with providing water that’s closer, food that’s closer, and makes it easier for the village to sustain itself. They can also then put more time and effort into learning and school versus walking far just to attain water. Once the well is made, Drop4Drop lets you know exactly where it is, they send you pictures of the people impacted by your donation and invite you to come out whenever if you can.

6LACK @ Lollapalooza, Polaroid by Matt Torres/Soundazed
Is Drop4Drop an organization you found yourself?

Yeah — I was actually just randomly on the internet just trying to figure out what to do during a time where I think I was just shopping a little too much. I was just sitting there thinking, what can I spend my money on that’s actually worth it? Instead of trying to think of all this stuff to buy, there’s stuff that actually needs to be done. So once I found that it said something like $1 could help one person, $5 can help a family, and as it continued on, one of the options was to actually build an entire water well. Like, damn, for $3,000? That’s super helpful for that amount. In the U.S., we spend that much in a couple of weeks or on whatever really, it’s easy, but it goes a really long way over there.



You’re currently touring the exceptional, East Atlanta Love Letter. It spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B Charts. When you were starting out, did you ever conceive achieving this magnitude of success?

Yeah, it was really that or nothing. I figured if I was going to do it for real, I would have to do it to the best of my ability and I’m going to shoot, in some sense, to be the absolute best at it. Whatever that even is. If it’s impressing myself with a piece of work and then it ending up being #1 on Billboard or even GRAMMY-nominated, that’s just a part of it.

The album features your GRAMMY-nominated track, “Pretty Little Fears” with J. Cole. How does it feel to receive your third nomination?

It’s the icing on the cake and it really reminds me that there’s actually nothing I can’t do.

You’ve talked in the past about connecting organically with an artist before creating in the studio. How did you first meet Khalid and begin to create “Seasons”?

I met Khalid at a rooftop event in LA — Tunechi had introduced me to him and it was just like an immediate brotherly bond. He loved my work and I told himI loved what he was doing, but aside from that, I loved who he was and is as a person. Since then, we’ve always kept up with each other, checking in on each other — miss you, bro, love you bro, all that shit. Working together on “Seasons” just came naturally from that.

“Seasons” holds a strong metaphor for the transition and changes in your own life. Can you tell us a little bit about where you were mentally while writing it?

It was just a time period where I was walking from one part of my life to the next and actually doing it and not just saying it. I feel like with the first album, FREE 6LACK I was trying to get to that point. I was saying I was about to do something but not ever really following through. With East Atlanta Love Letter and the track “Seasons,” my life has actually changed and started to shift. I’ve actually taken the steps necessary to be able to live how I want to live, or at least to face anything new to come. The old things are staying in the past and I’m ready for whatever is next.



You’re sharing a visual for the track this month. What’s the concept behind the video?

It’s symbolic of things changing in my life. It’s more so not even about me or at all like your typical music video that would be focused on me and what I’m doing or what I’m wearing. These are cinematic clips and moments that make me feel good. These are moments that make me feel like seasons are changing and things are okay now.

Your festival dates lead through November. What can we expect next from you?

I’m finally in the mood to sit down and work on a third album, so that’s coming next.

That’s great to hear. You’ve started working on it?

Yes, I just started it.

 


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