Tom Oldham
Assisted by
Abena Ofei
Maria Comparetto at The Only Agency using Typology
James Hole
Ryan at Milk and Metal

6LACK (pronounced “Black”) is back. Yes, you read correctly. The R&B hitmaker, who is responsible for producing some of the hottest slow jams – “Pretty Little Fears,” “PRBLMS,” and “Calling My Phone,” to name a few – has returned with his first studio album in five years. Titled Since I Have A Lover, the record is what has been described early on as a “lovers album” and one he is most proud of. And while the past few years haven’t seen the singer completely disappear from the music scene, 6LACK, born Ricardo Valdez Valentine Jr., felt it was necessary to take a step back and live life before committing to putting out another full-length project.

“This took longer than I promised, but some promises are meant to be broken,” the 30-year-old expressed in a 58-second-long voice note named “A Letter To My Fans.” He continued, “When it comes to time and growth, there’s no skipping any part of the process or you just end up repeating lessons that you should have definitely learned from, by now.”

Gearing up for the long-awaited release, 6LACK flew over to London a few weeks in advance for promo. The last time he came to the city was the summer prior for Wireless Festival, a trip that stands out to him particularly because he was able to soak in what he does for a living without having to deal with an overwhelming, busy schedule. “That was the first time where I got to plan my trip around my job,” 6LACK recalls. “I got to go to Amsterdam, do nothing, and then get to London early, do nothing, and then show up and then do nothing. And it felt more proper to treat it like that than just going out there and working.”


As soon as 6LACK set foot in London this time around, he documented his Nando’s order with his 2.2 million Instagram followers, informing me that there aren’t many of the food chain, which specializes in flame-grilled peri-peri style chicken, over in the States. It was in fact that same restaurant where he did his first-ever fan meet-up in London back in 2017, the same year he was able to also perform his first UK concert. “My first London show was the first time where it actually clicked to me that music travels overseas,” 6LACK says. “Obviously the language barrier isn’t there, but as far as music traveling that far, that was a culture shock.”

In the years that have followed, 6LACK has cemented himself as one of today’s most credible and celebrated musicians, racking up three Grammy Award nominations, an MTV Video Music Award win, 8 billion global streams, and major collaborations with a whole ray of stars including Normani, Tinashe, J. Cole, Selena Gomez, Khalid, and Lil Tjay, just to name a few. And while, yes, he might be seven years deep into his career and has only just released a third album, it’s always been clear that he’s all about quality rather than quantity. 

Jacket: Ahluwalia | Hat: Gucci

With his latest collection of songs on Since I Have A Lover, 6LACK is hoping to continue his reign as a leading musician in the world of R&B and hip-hop. Kicking off the album campaign on March 1 with the title track, 6LACK was confident from the get-go that this was the song to launch a brand new era. “The song is the summary of the album for me. Like even though there are different moods and different textures and different tempos, that song is the thesis of the album and is the reason why I’m making this album, this is the reason why I feel the way I feel, this is the reason why I’m bettering myself,” he says. Proud of the immediate positive reception, 6LACKS insists “It’s dope to nudge people in a different direction and to tell them regardless that this is me and I’m confident in who I am and where I’m at and you should be too. Whatever your version of that is, like just standing up.”

Known for his downtempo production, the song sonically hears 6LACK playing around with an upbeat guitar riff and experimenting with sounds that listeners aren’t typically used to hearing from him. “I think each era or each album or each story should always be a tad polarizing because otherwise, that means you’re playing it safe,” he says. “I just like to do something different to impress myself or to see where my range can go or how I can like paint in different colors.” 

With different themes of love flourishing throughout the lyrical content, “Since I Have A Lover” is undoubtedly a celebration of his relationship with fellow singer Bianca Quiñones, who goes by the stage name Quiñ. After appearing on two of the songs on her 2019 LUCID EP, Quiñ is represented throughout even more of the content on the album as she provides backing vocals on the title track, narrates certain parts of the songs, and serves as a featured artist on the sensual “wunna dem.” On “Temporary,” which features rapper Don Toliver, one can only assume that 6LACK is declaring Quiñ as his one and only since the chorus states, “Most girls are temporary but this one is not.”

Shirt: Bode | Trousers: L’equip | Shoes: Vans | Watch: Audemars Piguet

Since the two are comfortable mixing business with pleasure, 6LACK reveals what he has learned over the years after working so closely with his partner. “Honestly, just to be sure of myself,” he says. “Even when you’re up against what feels like the master sometimes where there’s always an opinion, there’s always a judgment, there’s always a ranking, a rating, a number count. It’s just like, do you and stand in it and on it and just be proud of it. That’s the main thing because it sounds easy but when there are so many outside factors, sometimes you get distracted by the things that don’t really matter.”

On the album’s second offering, “Talkback,” 6LACK channels that exact energy, freely expressing that he’s going to move in the way he wants to, regardless of what others have to say about it. “This one does the trick when I need to remember my purpose,” he shared with fans on Instagram, encouraging them to “Use it to get closer to yourself. Use it to get closer to the source.” On the song itself, 6LACK insists listeners should also follow in their own path, rapping, “I stopped makin’ excuses and speakin’ on things I don’t know / You should do the same, that should be your one goal.” 

For 6LACK’s 2016 debut, FREE 6LACK, he was able to tell his entire life story up until that point while his sophomore release, East Atlanta Love Letter, which came out two years later, documented becoming a father, new and old relationships, as well as adjusting to fame. Five years on 6LACK is shedding more light on his personal life, but in a way that he hasn’t before. “This one is more so just my perspective on the highs and the lows and the reality of it, which is just not always gonna be a fairy tale. It’s not always gonna be perfect, but I’m actually into learning through the process and I’m into figuring out who I can become by just committing to what I’m supposed to be doing,” he says. 

Suit: Emporio Armani | Shirt: Song For The Mute | Necklaces: Ateliersó | Watch: Audemars Piguet

During his years away, 6LACK discovered that routine is something his lifestyle lacked before. When not writing and recording music, he would take time out to indulge in other activities as it was important for him to “feed” himself in more ways than one. “There would be stints where I would be journaling a lot. There would be other stints where I would like to make sure I woke up and did yoga at a specific time every week. There would be times when I’d be in my gym, there’d be times when I’d have a reading stint. There’d be times when I’m just watching documentaries, or listening to a podcast,” he says. “I’d go on a random road trip to just continue to tap into myself outside of music so that I can be inspired when I get back into the studio.”

Unlike most musicians who take longer than expected to put out another project, 6LACK, in this case, didn’t suffer from writer’s block. When the global pandemic shut everything down, he was able to realize what he wanted and needed to do for himself during a time when performing around the world wasn’t a possibility. “I think that if I would’ve still been on the road, there’s no telling if I would’ve committed to bettering myself or if I just would’ve been in work mode,” 6LACK says. “And sometimes when you’re in work mode you feel like you’re doing the productive thing but I can figure music out easily, so that’s not really like what my difficulty is. It was like, I need to get my life together.”

When the writing process for the album started to come together, 6LACK admits that he purposely approached the lyrical content in a different manner. “There’s a lot more accountability. There’s less deflecting and putting it on somebody else,” he says. 6LACK uses his breakthrough hit, “PRBLMS,” as an example where he pointed the finger at someone else. “‘PRBLMS’ was pretty much zero accountability,” he admits. “It’s like a situation I’m halfway in control of but I’m more so just pointing like you do this, you do that, I don’t like this, I hate that. And now I’m at the part where I can’t really deflect anymore because if it’s happened multiple times, then there’s an issue that starts with me.” On the warm-hearted album closer, “NRH” (Night Ride Home), 6LACK reflects on past relationships and acknowledges that he’s partly responsible for how things may have ended, singing, “Didn’t get a chance to love you like I want / I’m way better,” in the opening line. He continues, “And I feel like I’m missin’ out on / Things that I’ve lost.”

Shirt: Ahluwalia | Necklaces: Ateliersó | Watch: Audemars Piguet

Showing a more vulnerable side to his personality through his art has never been something 6LACK has shied away from. And with there still being a stigma surrounding mental health and men being open about their feelings, 6LACK is hoping that his new album will set that example and be that beacon for listeners who are struggling with their personal demons. “I think during my time away, I’ve started to notice that men don’t really have that many circles or support systems like the way that women congregate, talk to each other, and spill things to each other,” he says. “We don’t normally do that. So this is my version of opening that up, not even just for men but for everybody to just like be more comfortable having hard conversations because that’ll just fix everything else.” And as 6LACK slowly contributes to breaking the stigma, he mentions that fans are in touch thanking him for being so transparent. “That’s exactly why we do it,” 6LACK says. “It’s like, you can be concerned with other things but the impact, that’s the most important thing.”

The last time 6LACK put out an album, his daughter, Syx Rose Valentine, was only around 1 years old. Now that five years have passed, he reveals how his creative process may or may not have changed in the years she’s grown up. “It has naturally,” 6LACK insists. “I don’t think I’ve had to think too consciously about it. The second that you have a child, things start to shift and with the last album, it started to shift a little bit and with this album, it continues to shift. There’s no crazy difference I would say because I was always on a specific mission and now it’s just like, okay, somebody’s watching so now I have to complete that mission.”

Talking of his daughter, she can be heard celebrating her 5th birthday on the intro, “cold feet.” However, 6LACK shares a little-known fact about how else she got involved in this album. “She’s on ‘Since I Have A Lover.’ She did some background vocals, some ‘oos’ and ‘ahs.’ If you listen super closely, you might hear it pop out,” he says. 

The anticipation of putting out music is always an exciting concept for 6LACK. However, he freely admits that there can sometimes be a sense of questioning himself going on in his head around the time of launching something big. “The outside clutter sometimes can confuse you or it can make you second guess yourself,” 6LACK says. “I’m at the part where I’m just like, this is just me and I need to just feel good about it. And you know, whatever people get from it, I know somebody will get something from it and that’s the goal.”

He concludes, “This album is calming for me. It’s peace for me, it’s love for me. So whether it’s family love, friend love, relationship love, pet love, or food love, just hang onto something and feel good.”

Necklaces: Ateliersó | Trousers: Song For The Mute