Born Ricardo Valentine, the southern singer has been creating for years but just recently began receiving attention with his breakout singles ‘PRBLMS’ and ‘Free’ released in early 2016. 6lack (Pronounced Black) aims to create a withstanding name for himself with murky beats, grimy vocals, and intimate lyrics. These characteristics are heard throughout ‘Free 6lack’ as Valentine contrasts past relationships and personal challenges with his desire for mental freedom.
After years or being locked in a faulty contract, 6lack felt he could finally express creative freedom with his latest release. The self-described monochromatic vocals backed by swampy soundscapes and stripped-down instrumentals reflect the conflicting emotions experienced by the young artist. In an interview with Fader magazine 6lack says, “ You look at it right now, you see monochrome, you see moody, you see for the most part somebody who is still in the process of figuring shit out,” in regard to his musical style.
‘Free 6lack’ opens with a stripped-down, nefarious track titled ‘Never Know’ which sets the overcast mood of the album and gives Valentine room to celebrate his hard-fought success. Other standout songs include intimate ballads like ‘Luving U’ and ‘Gettin Old’ plus an addictive remix of Future’s ‘Perkys Calling.’ 6lack aims to connect with fans through relatable stories of overcoming personal challenges and difficult relationships. His powerful messages of pushing for freedom pair seamlessly with his haunting beat selection creating a delightfully dangerous album. If you enjoy the murky, monochromatic R&B sound emerging out of cities like Atlanta and Toronto then I highly recommend indulging in this album and watching 6lack’s video for his hit single, ‘PRBLMS,’ below.
Dreamville Records’ colorful songstress, Ari Lennox, fuses timeless vocals with laid-back jazzy instrumentals to create a unique R&B soundscape fit for listeners of all ages.
The 25-year old DC native, born Courtney Salter, has been turning heads since the release of her first ep, Ariography, in 2013. This heartfelt and funky project contrasts intimate songs like ‘La La La La’ and ‘Magic’ with fierce uptempo tracks like ‘Inhale me Deep’ and ‘Mumbles’ to display her resilient range.
In late December 2015, Ari announced her signing to Dreamville Records and near-simultaneously appeared on the label’s collaborative album ‘Revenge of the Dreamers II’. Ari and fellow Dreamville artist, Cozz, emerge on the album’s standout song ‘Backseat’ providing playfully sexual lyrics and catchy melodies. I had never listened to Ari before her compelling presence on the Dreamers’ album and immediately became a fan. Watch Lennox and Cozz perform ‘Backseat’ live in the video below.
After much anticipation, Lennox released her debut album ‘PHO’ last October which featured previous hit songs ‘Backseat’ and ‘La La La La’ as singles. She describes her passionate album as something “braver and riskier” while keeping the sound “modern, relaxed” and “reminiscent of the beautiful music of the 70′s.” The hypnotic, jazzy production provided by Dj Grumble supplements Ari’s luscious vocals in songs like ‘Cold Outside’ and ‘Goat’. Exciting and intense songs like ‘Night Drive’ and ‘Backwood’ convey the projects tremendous energy with fervent horns and bold lyrics. If you enjoy soulful vocalists I recommend exploring Ari’s colorful discography.