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Review: 6LACK turns a corner on ‘Since I Have A Lover’

Photo courtesy Interscope Records

By Jacob Pellegrino     4/4/23 10:46pm

Rating: ★★★★

Top Track: “Inwood Hill Park”

6LACK, pronounced “black,” is an artist known for his music about emotional instability, from unrequited love to unhealthy relationships. “Since I Have A Lover” sees 6LACK, born Ricardo Valdez Valentine Jr., embrace happiness instead through his lyrics and instrumentation five years after his last full-length album.

After going to therapy and years of healing, Valentine said he felt ready to share his current mental state and bring positive energy to his listeners through “Since I Have A Lover.” In a recent interview with Complex, he explained, “Being in a good place made me want to talk about good things … Toxicity seems to be the punchline at the end of every song, but it feels good to feel good. I wanted to spread that as much as I could.”

The album’s shift towards more acoustic instrumentation can be seen especially well on “Spirited Away,” a love letter to Valentine’s imperfections. The track features a sparse, looping instrumental layered with drums that draws the listener in with its simplicity. This emphasis on acoustic sound not seen as often in his previous albums further reflects the changes in Valentine’s personal life that drive this album.

“Inwood Hill Park” is an early highlight from the album with its lyrical openness and grooving instrumentation. Gone are the days of heartbreak as 6LACK declares his love for his current partner. Valentine uses a range of descriptions to illustrate how she makes him feel, including “Monday startin’ to feel like Friday” and “Turn a solo to a feat[ure].” A particularly potent comparison is seen in the lines, “Colors startin' to feel real vibrant / Remember it was all black and white / I'm nothin' like I was when I first dropped / 'Cause I would hate to do the same thing twice,” referencing both his personal growth and the color theme of his debut album, “FREE 6LACK.”

However, the song does not just detail the sunny parts of his relationship, instead asserting that their bond remains strong even after a fight. Valentine reaffirms that they will not just be alright, but that their time together is and will be a “delight.” Even at his happiest, 6LACK does not opt for over-simplification of the complicated thing that is love.

On “Talk,” Valentine discusses therapy with lines like, “talk to somebody on the outside” to see how he “feel[s] inside.” The song has a smooth and quick flow over loose snare hits and ethereal backing vocals. The open discussion of therapy in the R&B and rap space is a relatively recent phenomenon that has been seen from artists as big as Kendrick Lamar and is a refreshing addition to the narrative of the album.

On “Since I Have A Lover,” 6LACK relishes in his current state of internal and external happiness while still acknowledging the complexities of life and relationships. Valentine has undergone personal growth since his last full-length album, allowing him to show a new side to his music and produce a different sound that is still distinctly his own.

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