Photo: Salim Garcia / Press

6LACK — Rent Free/By Any Means

The Atlanta R&B singer is back with first release in over a year.

Grammy nominated Atlanta R&B stalwart 6LACK is back with his first proper release in over a calendar year, serving up a double feature of “Rent Free” and “By Any Means.” On the heels of the successful mid-pandemic release cycle for his first EP, 6pc HOT EP, and three full years on from East Atlanta Love Letter, all signs point towards these two tracks kicking off the cycle for the next project. The double feature is a new tactic that has recently seen benefit when utilized by fellow platinum sellers like Kings of Leon.

While new music from the artist was highly anticipated for some time, the drop came largely without warning, with 6LACK teasing the songs on Instagram just eight hours ahead of going live.

“Rent Free” has all the feels of an album opener. Stagnated off the top, the track replicated a skipping CD. In his signature smooth flow, 6LACK sings of the trials and tribulations of this first full pandemic calendar year, “’Cause I been through a lot this year / you been though a lot this year / when it come to the fights this year / oh, rеally paid the price this year.” Singing of not being able to move on from a lover, “You live in my mind rent free / I admit it was my pride allegedly / I done filled up all my time just to feel empty / how you don’t pay me no mind and then still be.” The beat is classic 6LACK, trappy undertones shroud a slick, understated beat that genuinely would have charted as an instrumental piece.

Moving on to “By Any Means,” reggae and R&B collide gently, nudging the aforementioned track out of contention from a sonic topography standpoint. The freestyle track runs 88 seconds — will fit in just fine as an interlude on the eventual longform project. “We ain’t with the drama, but we still a threat / the boys all on go / I done dropped in, I done clocked in, fuck a top ten / I am not them, this is off top, it is not penned,” he sings over a beat that could comfortably play in an elevator or a high-end cocktail event.

With the summer festival circuit in the planning phase as we speak, and keeping in mind that 6LACK’s last headlining tour was back in 2018, the timing of this drop seems precise and deliberate. Having two headline runs under his belt, along with tours supporting The Weeknd and Chris Brown, no doubt we’ll be hearing these two tracks played live when 6LACK returns to the stage next summer.