6LACK is in a happier place. He wants to show his fans how to get there too
Updated March 29, 2023 at 3:13 PM ET
The R&B singer 6LACK's (pronounced "black") music is synonymous with heartbreak and messy relationships. Unstable partners, repeated calls from your exes, he's lived – and sung, about it all.
And the 30-year-old artist has made a pretty good career of it. He's been nominated for three Grammys, and his previous two albums, Free 6LACK and East Atlanta Love Letter, both charted on Billboard 200.
But 6LACK's latest album, Since I Have A Lover, released on March 24th, is a sharp turn away from that material. He's happier and healthier. He sings about going to therapy, learning to communicate and controlling his ego.
"Creatively, I used to lean on the crutch of turmoil, heartbreak and disappointment. And sometimes it becomes almost a fetish to create from that place," 6LACK tells Morning Edition's Leila Fadel. "But I've finally reached a point in my life where that's just not where I am and it's not where I want to be."
In this interview, 6LACK shares new details about his personal growth, his relationship with social media and his desire to share the lessons he has learned with his fans.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. To hear the broadcast version of this conversation, use the audio player at the top of this page.
How did you get to this happier place? What brought you here?
I got to this place by almost sabotaging everything I had worked for in my personal life. I can communicate emotionally well with music. But in my personal life, I was struggling with things that almost felt like too easy for it to be that hard. I just wasn't like listening to myself when I would tell myself that there's an easier way to deal with what's going on in my relationship. There's an easier way to deal with, like the emotions that I haven't processed since my first tour. So I got a therapist, and that was the beginning of this process of getting to the source of the issues.
Before you actually started therapy, had you been hesitant about it at all?
I wouldn't say that I was against therapy. I would say that I procrastinated a little bit. It was like I knew that the resource was there and I was open to it. But I also was still operating from a space of arrogance and ego where it's like, I know I can do this myself. I can handle it on my own. And then I would mess up again.
What do you mean by mess up?
It's something as simple as I'm having a tough week because I'm away from my daughter and I'm feeling the pressure of everything online, and it's starting to affect my mood. I would just deal with it internally, and then somebody would say something as simple as I didn't get the mail you asked for, and that would just turn into a whole moment, and not necessarily because they didn't do what I asked. But I'm just feeling so much that now that you say something I don't agree with, it's just more dramatic than it has to be.
LF: So you're sort of suppressing your feelings around this other stuff and then reacting?
6LACK: Yeah, reacting and lashing out in moments where I just don't have to.
LF: You also wanted your lessons learned to be something you also impart through your music to the people who listen.
6LACK: Yes. I make music for the sole purpose of helping myself through the situation that I'm in so that I don't have to repeat any lessons and helping the people who listen to my music get to a better space of being.
What's it like to have this out in the world?
It's the biggest weight off my shoulders. I feel a million times lighter than I felt last year. It feels good to have another like child that I get to drop off into the world and watch it grow, and to take it on tour and see how it affects people. The last two tours I couldn't leave the shows feeling like I had done a lot for myself. I felt like I was doing a lot for other people. And those moods, those songs, and those feelings didn't bring me to a place of peace. And that's not to say that, things will always be amazing from here on out. But I'm aware of the work it takes to make it as amazing as I want it to be.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.