FREE 6LACK (Bonus Track Version)

FREE 6LACK (Bonus Track Version)

From the beginning of his solo career, 6LACK has made a home in the realm of immersive confusion. Combining his metallic vocals with dazed soundscapes and pointed questions he doesn't have the answers for, he has created engrossing anthems for unresolved love. After an ill-fated record deal in the early 2010s, he brought those skills to the forefront on FREE 6LACK, a 2016 album that references his own artistic liberation. Coated in blunt lyricism and his customarily sleepy delivery, the LP plays out in a stylish malaise, a haze of under-the-breath raps and foggy croons designed for late-night cruising. FREE 6LACK begins with a celestial beat and aspirational raps that recap his prior predicament. The opener is called "Never Know," but he's never sounded so sure: "Man I got my s**t together then I stepped up/I got tired of n****s telling me I'm next up." From there, 6LACK oscillates between themes of new liberty, spite, and regret, swirling them with instrumentals that sound sleek, forlorn, and meditative. On "Free," he suffuses distorted synths with taunts to an old lover. Sinking beneath the bassline, he serves up a devastating diagnosis for a bitter ex: "I know you don’t wanna f**k nobody but me/You don’t wanna touch nobody but me." While he feigns control, he has to finger-wave a bit more aggressively on songs like "Ex Calling," a track that sees him take Future's "Perkys Calling" for a test drive. It all sounds cool, but it's clear 6LACK is annoyed with the task of closing a relational chapter he thought he'd flipped the page on. Yet feelings and outcomes are rarely so simple, with old memories tugging at new ones, and clouds of doubt hovering over sunny new beginnings. Even parts of 6LACK's mesmerizing single "PRBLMS" read like solace in a half victory: "So I found me a new thang, I'm not as lost as you think."

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