The Male Heart — Not So 6LACK and White

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Everyone has that one artist who is their go-to when sad, missing a lover, or in one of those moods. Rocket science wouldn’t be necessary for anyone who knows me or reads my content to figure out one person in particular, but lately though I’ve felt I can really relate to 6LACK.

Of course, there are so many artists who leave it all out there on the table when it comes to matters of the heart, but something about the way he owns up to his shit while simultaneously yearning for love and keeping his head held high is the level of self-awareness I aspire toward. I think all men should. I also think we can be very misunderstood when it comes to love, but he conveys it in a way many can comprehend and feel. Let’s break down some of the songs where he does it the best and makes me wonder if we are kindred spirits.

“RPG” w/ Kehlani

I had to start with this one because it’s the song that solidified my need to write this article. I’ve pondered for weeks. In this ballad, Kehlani drags a lover for not giving her the time and attention she deserves, noting it’s also not genuine. She doesn’t feel the love is there and calls him out with no type of filter. 6LACK provides the necessary male perspective, taking full accountability but also looking to reassure her that his feelings are true.

“I don’t wanna make you think that I’m saying things cause you prompted me/Been workin’ with a lag, a fucked up past, I want you to be proud of me/Seems like day one you was fond of me, the same thing I felt for you/Then we fell in love, fell in life, it’s embarrassing to tell the truth”

Man, if this ain’t facts. We grow so much for the right one and want them to acknowledge it, but it feels like the mistakes are just so much more visible. It’s like we’re always playing from behind, and facing the Warriors.

After recounting how he fell in love with her, he goes on to say, “But now it’s to the point where my love is up for debating/Maybe it’s too late to say/I think love is shown, you think love is spoken/And we both comin’ from the same place.”

He knows his affection is doubted, especially because they differ in love language. They both just want to feel connected, although their form of expression isn’t exactly the same. Thus, things are complicated. The last six lines capture how rattled he is.

“I’ve been suppressed, I ain’t the best/Roll up the problems, smoke all the stress/We got way too much shit on the line/But you can’t see, emotions got you blind/Past life regression, lifetime lessons, carryin’ a message/Real-life angels, battlin’ depression.”

Self-explanatory.

“Gettin’ Old”

This is actually a feel-good song for me due to the bright notes that open the song, but it’s also a fun concept. He uses the idea of getting old to urge a girl to make up her mind and get with him because time wasted can never be regained. It appears she’s currently with someone, so the chase is especially difficult but he drives a hard bargain.

“Showing you I love you cause going out is getting old/Ima make breakfast ’cause going out is getting old. ”Man, when a girl really loves you, she loves laying up and doing nothing. He plays to this, offering company and breakfast. The way to a lady’s heart is her stomach…along with you know, being a decent person and having the emotional connection but the food is powerful.

Verse one he drags her man through the mud too. “You can leave your man cause that nigga is getting old, yea.” “He only bought a bag/Well tell him that it’s getting old/I fly you overseas to Paris my money getting old/ We can skate down to St. Tropez when it’s getting cold”

I’m normally not a proponent of dirty macking, but evidently, the Zone 6 crooner is prepared to pull out all the stops. All’s fair in love and war, right? We’ve all been at that place where we’re driven to speak our mind on someone else, but our intent is pure. It’s looked down upon, but we ain’t perfect and love will make you do some crazy things. In reality, 6LACK could’ve said much worse.

“Sorry”

Nearly every line of this song is a quotable, and it’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. Really hits home. “Really hate saying sorry/Gotta be another way/I know you hurt regardless/ Tryna take away the pain”

The word “sorry” feels so meaningless when you’re prone to making mistakes. It starts to feel like a formality at a certain point, but the real impact comes from changed behavior. It appears he’s starting to learn this, in addition to continued awareness of the fact “sorry” doesn’t heal her wounds.

“Sitting here, patching myself up/Crying over what’s left, ’cause/Without you, I ain’t shit, but no pressure/Guess I gotta learn my lesson.” When it dawns on you how much someone means to you, and how much they make you better, it’s a tough pill to swallow. As men, we’re inclined to try and push forward, as saddening as things can be.

We take certain L’s with the understanding they may be meant for us to learn from and become better as a result. 6LACK takes this one right on the chin, painful as it may be, and keeps it moving.“Do all this work only to fuck it up/But I’m not down for quitting on your love/It’s twisted but I just can’t get enough.”

We’re all trying so hard. And sometimes it feels like the goalposts just keep moving, not even done so intentionally by the women in our lives. Regardless, a lot of us can’t give up. It’s intense and “toxic” like many love to say these days, but true love will drive you to firmly believe it can be figured out despite all the mess.

“Stuck In My Ways” — w/ Phora

This is another slow roaster that really touches the soul. Phora delivered a heartfelt open letter on his first verse, with a powerful flow switch. Something about 6LACK getting the second verse just feels so eerie yet beautiful. There’s this mental buildup to his first words.

“It’s been like four months of going in circles, I know/But I’m a bit scarred, tryna figure out which way to go/We could’ve had a fucking blast, yeah, yeah/But I was tripping on the past, yeah, yeah” Some of us men have a really hard time letting go of the past, especially negative things other people have done or caused.

Nobody likes to be reminded of their wrongdoings, especially us, yet it’s so easy to do. It can and will cripple a relationship, waste time, and ultimately drive you mad when all that time y’all could be happy in love. “Lately I’ve been feeling stuck, down in the dumps, might need to jump/Miss me with that ‘where were you, when I needed you’ look”

It’s crazy how often people can misinterpret how impacted by things we are. We put on a happy face and try to be strong because that’s our masculine tendencies, but men hurt inside just like women do. Swallowing our pride and admitting when we’re wrong is tough, especially when we are coming back to try and rekindle things.

We know we went away and it wasn’t easy, so I totally feel him not liking the look. We need to see it though. We have to acknowledge what we did and how it affected someone. “I know you wanna stay away/Considering the stakes/I thought that you could take it/I thought that we would make it/It’s crazy how it all pans out/Tryna carry all my plans out”

Things don’t always go according to plan, but failed plans involving lovers just hurt so much more. You have to fight against history and their apprehension to give second and third chances if you so choose. The way things happen is crazy, simply put.

Sometimes listening to 6LACK feels like staring into a mirror. “Mistakes feel like a fracture in my bone” because he truly pours his heart out. This is only four songs, but the entirety of East Atlanta Love Letter and Free 6LACK captures the essence of a habitual “ain’t shit nigga” trying to be better but still with ways to go. It’s why his music hits so hard and he’s going to last. There’s always a space for songs about love, and as men, we need to hear the voice of one who doesn’t run away from his flaws.

Originally published at https://www.elevatormag.com on February 23, 2019.

Writer, editor, curator, podcast host, passionate overthinker of all things music and wrestling. Content — linktr.ee/armonsadler. Hope you enjoy!

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