In a year of uncertainty, you can always bet on 6LACK.
Four years since his debut, the Grammy-nominated singer remains one of R&B’s most consistent voices. In June, he released his 6pc Hot EP, the result of his time in quarantine, while remaining one of music’s most in-demand features, collaborating with everyone from Selena Gomez to Elton John, and even releasing his own hot sauce.
But like many, 2020 hasn’t been an easy one for the 28-year-old. In an exclusive interview with Rap-Up, 6LACK reflected on the “roller coaster of a year,” revealing that he sought outside help before he was able to find his creative groove again. “It took a lot of looking in the mirror. It took a lot of disagreements. It took a couple of arguments. It took some therapy that I got involved in recently,” he said. “It took a lot to crawl back into that creative space, but I was adamant about doing it.”
6LACK is now back in the studio working on his third studio album, which will reflect his growth. “I’ve been able to start making music again, because for a minute, I really didn’t know what the fix was for it,” he said. “I was just sitting in the studio every day like, what do I do in regards to my personal life, in regards to my music, in regards to staying healthy, everything. I was just trying to figure out what the problem was and how to fix it.”
Tonight, he will perform a virtual benefit concert for Patrón’s “More Than Tequila” music series with Mereba, BRS Kash, and Kitty Ca$h that will stream at 7 p.m. ET on 6LACK’s Instagram, with proceeds benefitting Black-owned restaurants and bars.
Ahead of the livestream, read what he had to say about his new album, making Christmas music with Summer Walker, and whether he and The Weeknd will ever collaborate.
How did the partnership with Patrón and the “More Than Tequila” music series come together?
I’ve been just trying to figure out different things to get involved and get myself activated since quarantine has hit. And obviously, things that are, not just beneficial for myself, but beneficial for the community. So this was another opportunity that was brought to me. And I just love what the messaging was. I love what the MO was, and it was just something good to attach myself to and something good to involve myself with.
Proceeds from the concert will go to Black-owned restaurants and bars. How have you seen your local businesses affected by COVID?
It hasn’t been a good feeling. And I’ve been going home maybe every other month and every time I go home, I get news of something new shutting down or new place that I was into or performed at when I was coming up, shutting down. And during that time super early on, it was just happening quick. So I didn’t really know what to do about it or if it was a direct thing or if I needed to find somebody that could help me out as far as getting in on a plan to help people out. And yeah, there is a street in Edgewood where there are a lot of bars in Atlanta, a lot of those closed down if not all of them. So it’s been really cool to just get involved with something to just help with that and prevent more businesses from closing.
2020 has changed everyone’s lives. As an artist, how has it affected the way you release music and your creative process?
It has been a roller coaster of a year as far as all of that goes. I’ve been trying and I think I started off pretty strong in the beginning as far as when the pandemic first hit and making sure I had a routine and I was something to keep myself feeling good, to keep myself creative. But then I think like everybody else, I hit a dip and I didn’t really know what to do. And I got a little bit uninspired and I got a little bit stagnant and the best thing that’s helped me since then is just really been tapping into routines all over again. Paying attention to myself, reminding myself of what I’m grateful for every single day. And while doing that, I’ve been able to get the gears back turning. I’ve been able to start making music again, because for a minute, I really didn’t know what the fix was for it. I was just sitting in the studio every day like, what do I do in regards to my personal life, in regards to my music, in regards to staying healthy, everything. I was just trying to figure out what the problem was and how to fix it.
Would you say you’re in a good space creatively right now?
Yeah. I literally crawled into it, man. It was not easy at all. It took a lot of conversations. It took a lot of self-reflection. It took a lot of looking in the mirror. It took a lot of disagreements. It took a couple of arguments. It took some therapy that I got involved in recently. It took a lot to crawl back into that creative space, but I was adamant about doing it. So it was just one of those things to where I just wanted to figure out whatever it took and do whatever it took for myself, for my kid, for my fans, for my family, for friends, everybody.
Are you currently working on a new project?
Yes, I am. I’m always working on a new project. I’m working on, I guess what most people would call it the third album right now. It’s been a cool process. I haven’t necessarily been working on that since the last project. I was just always working on music. And now I think that I’ve just been in a really good flow and inching closer and closer to being finished with whatever’s next.
In June, you released your 6pc Hot EP. Was that something you were planning to do all along or just something you released to hold fans over?
Oh no, that was literally quarantine. It came out of nowhere. I was making music. I made a couple of songs that I loved and I just wanted to put them out and I thought that it would be a good time to put something out because people have just been clinging onto whatever they can get. So that was just one of those moments where I was just locked down like everybody else and something happened to come out of it.
At the Day N Vegas Festival last year, you said, “My next album will be my best album.”
I think that me saying that in that moment was really just like, it’s a declaration of just feeling like whatever I do next is the biggest growth period in my life. So that’s why it’s the best to me even though it doesn’t even have to be complete for it to be the best. I know it’s been the most self-reflective, I know it’s been the most challenging. I know that musically and creatively I’ve been working to make sure I don’t step the same or do anything in the same way that I did it before. So I’m excited to continue to just pump out whatever that is musically and give it to people because I think that I feel like the growth has taken big leaps, then that is the best to me. That’s all I could ever hope for.
Are we going to get any more music before the year is over?
Those are the things that I cannot predict. I don’t know. It could be a note today and then I could make a song tomorrow and be like, this needs to come out now. I think we always did things spur of the moment and just based off of how we feel. So it would probably be the same thing now. I don’t really know if something else is going to come out before the end of the year, but I would be excited if it did.
You and Summer Walker collaborated on “Ghetto Christmas” for LVRN’s Home for the Holidays compilation. What was it like to work together? And why did you choose to do that particular record?
That song was suggested to me by the gang, just by the rest of the LVRN. This is the first time in a long time that all of us have been in Atlanta as far as like the artists, the management team, everybody. So it was pretty cool for us to just come together and make something happen for the little bit of time that we were all home together. And obviously with it being holiday related, it gives people something to look forward to for the holidays. And then obviously Summer is amazing. So anything that I ever do with Summer, I think is going to be fun.
Are you a fan of Christmas music?
Yes, I am. I feel like if I started to list my favorites, then my favorites will go on forever and ever. But I think that now that I’ve been able to have my own spin on it, that my current favorite is going to be the one with me and Summer.
Would you ever consider doing a full Christmas project?
It depends on if I got in that mood. I think that the best way for something like that to happen is if I lock in, whether it’s this Christmas or next year or whenever, and I just have time. Whenever I get time in the studio to myself, I just kind of follow whatever’s on. So I’m pretty sure it will be a moment in time where I’m in the studio by myself and I got those, what are those, ABC Christmas cartoons that used to come on every single year. Got those playing in the background and who knows what might come.
You’ve collaborated with everyone from Lil Durk to Snoh Aalegra this year. Is there anyone left on your wish list?
I would love to do something with Erykah Badu. Always wanted to do something with D’Angelo. It’s like a dream to do something with Sade. [James] Fauntleroy is one of my favorite writers, singers of all time. So I think that’s a good synopsis of a wish list for me. Those people.
Your debut Free 6LACK was released four years ago. How did that album change your life?
Well, for one, it most definitely took me out of the struggling young guy, struggling artist phase of life. So it changed my life as far as being able to make me be able to take care of myself and my family. It changed the lives of a lot of people around me as far as being able to employ some of my friends and give everybody like that same opportunity to create for themselves. It was a moment to just grow up and get ready to be a father. And it was also a moment to give people a little bit of a summary of who I was and what I went through prior to them getting that project. Obviously it’s not something I’ll ever forget or think less of. It’s what I would consider the first and the classic and nothing will ever compare to that moment as far as like what that moment meant to me.
You have your own hot sauce. How did you come up with the idea for that?
Between me and management, hot sauce has always been just like a reoccurring type of either joke or a conversation or just thing that I always use. I just had a really weird connection with it when I was younger. It was something that my mom tried to basically ban me from because I used it too much. And fast forward to adulthood, I just felt like it was a disservice to talk about something and do something, have something in the part of my life so much that I didn’t have my own hand that. And so yeah, we, me and the management sat down, came up with the idea, found somebody to be able to test our recipes, figured out what we wanted the bottle to look like. And once we got it right, it was just a really fun idea. And it’s been a really fun thing to just put out for people to have that isn’t music because besides music, I think that food probably on the top of everybody’s list, as far as things that are important. So clothes and merch and all that shit is fun, but food is definitely top priority.
Are you working on any other 6LACK-branded products besides the hot sauce?
Always, we are always trying to figure out a way to just continue to transition merch in to more of like an apparel type of situation. I do want to figure out a wing place or a restaurant of some sort in the future. We started with that idea at the beginning of the year. And then obviously COVID hit and things just got a little bit just shaken up for everybody. So backed away from that idea for a second, just took like a little pause. And other than that, right now, it’s just been figuring out the music part. I don’t think that anything else is going to be able to get what it needs fully if I don’t make sure I deliver what I’m supposed to deliver musically.
You toured with The Weekend in the past and you even brought him out at your show. Are we ever going to get a collaboration?
I’m pretty sure. I can’t predict a date or a sound or anything like that, but I’m pretty sure. He’s one of my favorite people that never really changed. I love his whole entire team, management company. Those are people that were part of that spark that pushed me to do everything that I was doing in 2016. I remember being in college and watching their career start to take off and being like, oh, this is amazing. And this is something that I want to be able to figure out for myself one day.
I’ll be waiting for that. I hope it happens.
Thank you, man. I appreciate it, man because it’ll definitely happen. It’s just one of those timing things.
I know it’s putting you on the spot, but could name your top five R&B artists of all time?
Oh geez. I’ll probably rephrase the question to my top five R&B people that I can think of off the top of my head right now… And that would be, I said Erykah earlier. I love Erykah always. I love Sade always. I love D’Angelo always. That’s hard. Brandy, always. And maybe I should just throw Usher in there and say that those are the top five that popped in my head just now as far as what I’ve been listening to lately and who I obviously love like forever. Those people right there.
And before I let you go, what does 2021 look like for you?
Just continuing growth. I think that I don’t want to be fooled by what’s been going on this year and how crazy it’s been and thinking that next year, it’s just going to stop when it’s January 1st. I think I want to be prepared for whatever’s next. I think that I want to continue to just reflect and grow for myself, grow creatively, grow musically, grow as a dad, grow as a friend. And that is all I could ever really see for myself as far as the next year goes. No crazy expectations besides making sure I’m standing on myself.