Show & Prove
6lack has found his lane and people are taking notice.
Words: Kathy Iandoli

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of of XXL Magazine.

While Atlanta’s music scene is filled with artists whose sound reflects the neighborhood they live in, 6lack weaves through styles thanks to his creativity and flow. With that, the new rapper’s debut project, Free 6lack, has been a hit, gaining millions of plays on SoundCloud, Spotify and YouTube.

Born Ricardo Valentine, 6lack earned his moniker once he hit Atlanta’s Zone 6. “One of my OGs gave [it] to me,” he says, “and black, just being the color that I’m literally the most comfortable in.”

In the summer of 2016, 6lack dropped the infectious “Prblms,” garnering 8 million views on YouTube, 11 million plays on SoundCloud and 21 million plays on Spotify. By the close of last year, his Free 6lack project was released and so began the 24-year-old artist’s road to stardom—a journey paved with life lessons, particularly in the department of discretion. “With [fame] comes the loss of privacy and the loss of personal things, relationships and stuff like that,” 6lack admits. “I’ve been invested in the fact that I was going to do this my entire life, so I feel like all the years leading up to this, I already knew what I was getting into.”

Bouncing through sounds like trap-and-soul, 6lack has found a comfortable lane and people are taking notice. The Weeknd came out to 6lack’s Los Angeles show in January and announced that he’s bringing 6lack on tour. Also, the Internet’s Syd hand-picked 6lack for her solo debut, Fin, on the track “Over,” which was released in February. “I love his songwriting,” Syd says of the East ATL native. “It feels so effortless and authentic, which is rare.”

6lack, who signed to LoveRenaissance and Interscope Records in the fall of 2016, continued his momentum by recording new music with Jhené Aiko and landing a spot at the 2017 Panorama Festival in July. Now that he’s making strides, there’s no slowing down. “I don’t have any plans to fall back,” he adds. “I’ve been working since the week after I finished the project, so it’s just a matter of me feeling like the time is right.”

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2017 issue including the cover story with DJ Khaled, Joey Bada$$ discussing his ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ album, Freddie Gibbs and the trial that almost cost him his freedom and more.

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