Since his emergence in the pop music landscape, 6LACK has gained a reputation as one of the most versatile artists in the game.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Atlanta, the singer/songwriter and rapper first garnered national attention with the release of his single "PRBLMS" in 2016, which was followed by his debut project album, FREE 6LACK, the same year which made him one of the poster boys for "toxic" relationship songs. The LP also brought him a Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
His sophomore LP, East Atlanta Love Letter (2018), featured the hit singles "OTW" (with Khalid and Ty Dolla Sign), and in 2020, he dropped 6pc Hot.
After a five-year wait, his latest album, Since I Have A Lover (2023), is his most personal work to date and has earned him another nomination for Best Progressive R&B Album.
BET.com spoke with 6LACK about the evolution of his creative process, collaborating with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on Verizon's Run The Playlist in collaboration with UNINTERRUPTED, and how therapy has made him a better artist and human being.
BET.com: Your latest album, Since I Have A Lover, received a Grammy nomination for Best Progressive R&B Album. Do you ever get used to having the Academy acknowledge your music?
6LACK- It never gets old. The day that getting recognized gets old is probably when I need to hang it up. I make music for the sole purpose of doing something good for people but when you get recognized for it, it's the icing on the cake. So I could never look at it and shrug it off because, to me, it means that somebody feels what I'm feeling, somebody loves what I did, and they appreciate what I bring to the table.
BET.com: Since you debuted in 2016, how has your creative process changed as you’ve evolved as an artist?
6LACK: It depends on how I'm feeling that day. It could be hip-hop based, it could be R&B based, it could be alternative sounding or it could be experimental. I just like to go with whatever the vibe or the color is for the day. It has to be very open and very free-flowing. Over time, it's just something that continues to surprise me. The more I get into my writing and listening to songs, the more I enjoy them. it's just something that I love to be able to exercise.
BET.com: Many artists release albums at a rapid pace but you took five years to drop Since I Have A Lover. What was the reason for your hiatus?
6LACK: I needed time off, so I worked myself into a space that felt more productive than it was. I would go on tour and pump out albums feeling like those are moments where I shined the most. But my personal life just wasn't as on point as I wanted it to be. The more I grow within my music, the more it parallels my personal, spiritual, and emotional growth. So I just stepped back and paid attention to who I am outside of music so that I could be inspired to make Since I Have A Lover. I didn't want the pressure of thinking about what people wanted, or what they expected. I just wanted people to see where I was in my life and figure out how to paint that picture more than anything,
BET.com: I recently read how you began therapy and incorporated meditation as a daily practice. How have those elements helped you personally and as a performer?
6LACK: Honestly, it conditions me. If I do something good for my body consistently, those physical rewards condition me to be better in my creativity and my personal life. It’s just like training. So if I do that to start my morning, the way I handle a conversation that would normally frustrate me or throw me off, now I’m a lot more prepared. It’s the same as you know, when it comes to being in the studio and giving myself moments of silence and it really shows when it comes time to get down to work.
It also helps with my preparation to perform. For me, music and performing has always been a sport as much as it is an art. So you have to be in the right physical state to be able to compete. On this past tour, I'm doing pretty much an hour and a half set and then you have to navigate and narrate through the course of the entire show. I have to be in shape because I can feel the difference when I'm not doing certain practices. These are the small things that matter. I have to stay on it because I see the results when I do and I see the results when I don't.
BET: I saw the conversation with you and Lamar Jackson on Verizon’s Run the Playlist in collaboration with UNINTERRUPTED. You two are both young superstars in your respective fields. What was it like to connect with him?
6LACK: That was cool, man. I think the simplest thing that I could pull out of it was that it was just fun for me to realize that I never met a star quarterback before in my life [Laughs]. I've never been in a position to meet any as an amazingly talented game-changer like Lamar. Then, the conversation was also fun for me because they put me in a space where I felt like the oldest for a second. It was cool to be able to hear different perspectives and to kind of like chime in when I felt like I might have had a little bit more experience with whatever the topic was. It felt like we were just talking as homeboys and it was no pressure or script. The cameras were on and the conversation started but at one point, they had to tell us that it was over because we kept going. We don't need anything because it just became more natural as we kept talking.
BET: What did you learn from Lamar that you didn’t know about him before the conversation?
6LACK: I learned about how he moves as a leader. I think we’re both very mellow and chill and keep to ourselves. But the flip switches on when it's time to do our thing. It was interesting to hear him say that sometimes he’s not the most vocal leader and neither am I. But when it's time for me to get out there and do what I do, it's a completely different game. Like Lamar, I’m more reserved but I still put myself in a position to be the person that people need when it's time to get stuff done.
BET.com: With some of your music roots being in Baltimore, when will you give us some Baltimore club-inspired music?
6LACK- I need to just go and set up shop [Laughs]. I think the only way to fully do that is to be there and establish a rhythm in the city, at the very least. I think that's what most of the best artists do when they involve themselves in the scene. If you want to get a specific vibe, you just have to go to the source.
BET: When people think of 6LACK, what do you want to be most known for as an artist?
6LACK: I would love to be known for doing what feels good to me and inspiring people to do the same thing. This is an opportunity to make great products and to inspire people to do great things. So with that, I also want to try my best to be a good example for my child so she can make a good example for everybody coming after her. That's how I see the music industry. It's an opportunity to do something really special that helps people.
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