With Uncertain Times Ahead, 6LACK's Optimism Keeps Him Moving Forward

All eyes on 6LACK. In an industry where many project rollouts can feel formulaic, 6LACK’s innovative approach to unveiling his appetizing 6pc Hot EP features his very own 600 Degrees hot sauce bottle delivered to fans’ doorstep, tracklist-revealing scratch-offs, and a digital 6LACKBOX hub filled with everything 6LACK to connect with his growing audience. The whole thing is sure to grab the attention of envious marketing agencies across America.

The 28-year-old succinctly sums up the range of emotions listeners are all feeling amid the world’s uncertainty in just 18 minutes over six moody tracks. He connects with Lil Baby on the timely “Know My Rights” — another rapper having a moment in 2020 — and provides quarantine lust on the tender “Outside” to close out the vulnerable EP.

Ultimately, the Zone 6 native believes if any of his music can uplift fans’ spirits and provide a temporary feeling of normalcy or a light at the end of the tunnel, he’s done his job. “Know that it’s bad, but it’ll be fine/ That’s just how it is, shout out to Slime,” 6LACK croons on “Float.”

Billboard caught up with the LVRN artist on the eve of 6pc Hot‘s release, as 6LACK gets candid about his thoughts to abolish the police, modeling his music career after the late Kobe Bryant, working with Roddy Ricch, and more.

Billboard: How are you doing with everything going on in the world?

6LACK: It’s up and down — some really good days and some stagnant days where you don’t know what to do or say, what to fix or what not to fix. I’ve been back-and-forth, but ultimately good.

How would you describe the vibe of Atlanta right now?

It’s kind of wild, because it’s not as strict as some places. I was in California for a minute and I saw people standing a certain distance from each other with masks on and then you go to Atlanta, and it’s cracking like it’s back to normal.

What was the recording process like for the 6pc Hot EP?

This project was something that came on the heels of being locked in quarantine for the first time. We started it right before just to make music, and once that happened, we followed the emotions of that. The 6pc Hot project theme is tied to childhood memories and things that remind me of good moments of my life.

We basically wanted to create an interactive thing with my fans because my relationship with them has been so direct. I want to keep it that way during this time especially because a good percentage of the news we see today is negative and I just want to spin it and do something else.

It’s cool to see such an innovative rollout for the project as well between having your own hot sauce, the 6LACKBOX, and the scratch-offs to reveal the tracklist. How did you come up with this and why connect with your fans in this way?

It’s just getting into a room with people with different ideas and everyone blurting out the craziest things they can think of. We all either collectively agree or collectively laugh, but that’s how we figure out most of our ideas. The scratch-off thing was something physical and reminiscent of growing up. It’s something I remember seeing in gas stations as a kid. With the hot sauce, it’s always been a favorite thing of mine, so I figured why not have a hand in it?

How about linking up with Timbaland for “Elephant in the Room”?

“Elephant in the Room” is the oldest one on the project. I had that song for at least a couple years — maybe like two years. It just came down to talking to my team, and everybody loves to talk about their favorite songs and give you their pick — which is always fun when you’re an artist, because sometimes it turns into arguments or “Why you like this, I like that.” I can hoard music all day, but if I can put it out there and it does something for somebody, there’s no reason to be holding onto it.

Do you check for fans’ reactions to snippets or them flooding your comments asking for a certain song to drop?

Yeah, absolutely. It’s always good to get real-time reactions and get a good gauge on how everybody feels. I’m always watching.

Did you feel like your career was being pushed or presented in a certain way back in 2016 when you first blew up onto the mainstream scene? Anything that made you feel like you had to take a step back and change the narrative?

Not really. I honestly feel like it’s been a very careful learning thing for me. I was just going through personal things. What people saw or got with a package was just my actual life and what I was actually feeling during that time. If I ever change it, it’s because I feel different or I don’t think like that anymore. Anything from using black-and-white photos or cutting my hair or changing the way I perform, everything has been me going through my personal things, and, ironically, it stays on brand.

One feature of yours I enjoyed from last year was hopping on Rita Ora’s “Only Want You.” How did that come about?

That was something that came out of left field and caught my ear. Justice had played it for me and I immediately was like, “I need to put a verse on that.” I forgot where I was — I feel like I was on the road somewhere. Fun song, fun verse.

With the current state of the country, do you feel artists have a responsibility to use their platform and speak out?

I would hope and want that. I’d like that for anyone who has a platform to do their own version of what they think is uplifting people right now. Everybody has to get past the thing where the person next to you has to be doing the exact same thing you’re doing to be contributing when everyone has different roles.

What changes do you want to see made to the police?

Ultimately, if we could abolish police or at least restrict them to the point we don’t have to fear [the police] as much as we fear. Now is a time everyone’s speaking up, otherwise you look like you’re on the other side. It’s interesting to see how quick laws get introduced and officers get arrested immediately when we’re yelling, marching, and angry. Regardless of how people feel about the times, from the marching to the looting and everything, it’s all doing something.

Earlier this month, you tweeted “F–k Drew Brees” in regards to his stance on kneeling during the National Anthem. How should we go about educating people like him?

That goes back to what you were saying about if you aren’t willing to be educated, then the line is drawn because there’s an obvious difference of opinion when I look at the flag versus someone else. If I’m trying to communicate that it doesn’t make me feel the same way, that shouldn’t throw you off so much that you label it as disrespect. I don’t feel that I’m equally represented under the same thing.

Following Kobe Bryant’s passing, you said that you “modeled your music career after watching him master his basketball craft.” Can you speak to connecting those two worlds and what he meant to you?

The Mamba Mentality that I picked up from watching his games from No. 8 Kobe to No. 24. Just to see somebody want something really bad and put their physical all into achieving something was inspiring for me, to try and have that same passion and fire for my music and what I want to do. I don’t think many of us have digested it yet. I remember not feeling like it was real, but he’s still a force and something I think about every single day. He was a perfectionist in the best way.

When are we gonna get a collaboration with Roddy Ricch? I know you guys hit the studio together last year.

Yeah, we made a couple of them. It’s two of them I want to say. I just don’t know what we’re going to end up doing with them. They could be on the album, they could be on another EP, or they could drop on their own.

What did you think of the J. Cole and Noname back-and-forth earlier in June? How should artists go about having political discourse in public?

To me, it’s a balancing situation. Everyone feels something and is on the same side and wants to achieve the same thing. Regardless of how people on the internet feel about it, two people had a discussion and I would like to think something productive or positive comes from that. Ultimately, it’s a good thing.