6lack fans haven’t had an album from their beloved trap R&B crooner since 2018’s critically acclaimed East Atlanta Love Letter. One of today’s most-streamed R&B artists, he has been featured on a slew of singles by the likes of Summer Walker, Khalid, Jessie Reyez, Selena Gomez, and several more performers over the past few months. But the Atlanta native has the type of fanbase that wants to hear from him, and they were constantly asking when new music would be coming as he is extremely connected to them online, especially via private group chats.
[Photo: Van Nguyen]
Time is obviously hard to come by for a platinum-selling recording artist known for selling out shows in under an hour. However, being forced to adhere to quarantine guidelines allowed 6lack to buckle down and create. 6lack is known for crafting songs that skillfully convey the ups and downs of life, mostly related to love. But when COVID-19 quarantine also turned into the world watching (and participating in) mass anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests, it was hard to not tap into that as well, and now we’re here, with 6lack engaging his fans in a meaningful way with the release of 6pc Hot, a 6-song EP and virtual adventure, released today.
It’s a full-on, virtual-to-real-life experience that involves the launch of 6lackbox.com, a hub for all things 6lack, and Black, as well as a way to foster dialogue around race, community, and Black entrepreneurship.
“It was a back and forth process for me,” 6lack tells Fast Company about his creative process during quarantine. “Some days I was super creative and thought that I was pumping out a lot of songs; some days I didn’t have any ideas at all and I wasn’t inspired enough to do anything. But I felt like I held on to music too much, and this was the time to actually just really do something. So we pieced together the first six songs that I loved, and throughout the story, you’ll hear little pieces of things that are tied to what’s going on right now. You have songs like ‘I Know My Rights,’ you have songs like ‘Outside,’ about wanting to be back outside again. Quarantine was something for everybody to experience for the first time, so I just had to figure out how to translate those feelings into music form.”
6lack knew he wanted to release music in a more meaningful way than the standard of providing a download link.
With the help of his label, LoveRenaissance (LVRN), he was able to launch 6lackbox.com as a hub that provides resources that highlight Black businesses, behind-the-scenes 6lack content, exclusive merchandise, products such as 6lack’s hot sauce, voter registration resources, Black history reading lists, and access to social justice information.
“I’m socially conscious as a person. So the only thing that I can do is be the same thing that I am in person as an artist. It’s not a façade. It’s not for show, it’s not always for fun. It’s just actual things going on,” says 6lack. “Anytime there’s something going on, the only thing I know how to do is talk about it. If I talk about it in my real life, then I need to be talking about it in my songs, too. These are the things that help people get through these times. These are the things that help people get out of these situations, or just know how to feel while stuff is going on.”
6lack—who has chosen six as his life number because it represents nurturing and supporting others among other things in numerology—began rolling out the project last week with gifts for his fans. He started with providing a folder with a surprise for fans who shared their mailing addresses. Over 25,000 people were sent scratch-off lottery tickets that contained 6pc Hot’s track list, release date, and the chance to win more prizes. Then, on Wednesday, 6lack’s 28th birthday, fans were treated to “Float,” a single from the EP where 6lack sings, “I’m just tryna stay afloat” on the hook. It’s a simple concept, but it applies universally in what has been a rough past few months for everyone.
Here’s a breakdown of how 6lack’s robust campaign rollout works:
6pc Hot on Instagram
On Thursday, a virtual-reality version of 6pc Hot as a hot wings shop concept went live as a custom Instagram filter shareable through stores. It transformed users’ surroundings and played a snippet of “Know My Rights.”
6lackbox.com launches on Friday for everyone, offering 6lack and Black content. Fans can access previews of unreleased music from his upcoming third studio album, videos, and other merchandise. This is also where fans can find voter registration info, a Black-owned business contact resource, and a Black History reading list. The platform will be constantly updated.
6lack Likes It Hot
It’s not a secret that 6lack loves hot sauce. The title of the 6pc Hot EP is an ode to some of 6lack’s favorite hot wings spots in Atlanta such as American Deli and Atlanta’s Best Wings. The elements of nostalgia are strong.
“Growing up in Atlanta was literally just either meeting up at wing spots, trying to get my hair done, and going to wing spots. It’s just reminiscing on stuff that I went through growing up.”
In case you’re wondering, he prefers flats because “drums are barbaric.”
6lack describes the actual hot sauce—600 Degrees—as being “more on the good-tasting side than it is unbearable.” In terms of numbers, he says it’s at “about a 6 out of 10 spicy,” but that we shouldn’t hold him to that because his “radar is broken since he can eat anything.”
Starting June 29, fans in Los Angeles can get 600 Degrees delivered by robot via the website. Non-Angelenos can order on the site and get it delivered the standard way.
Postmates and Amazon partnerships
Postmates will give Atlanta-based users the option to order the special “6lack wings” from Goodfellas, a Black-owned restaurant, through the weekend. Deliveries will come with a bottle of 600 Degrees. Next week, Amazon will introduce preloaded “6lackcards”—that’s gift cards for burgeoning entrepreneurs who submit their business plans to 6blackbox. Those selected will be able to use the cards for business-related expenses.
A rep for 6lack tells Fast Company that there will be more announcements related to an Amazon partnership coming next week.
6lack the businessman is just getting started.
“It has been cool to tie all of these things that represent me into something visible for people to see and digest,” he says. “But moving forward, I just want to figure out how to have my hand in a different box, to do different things. When I first started out, I was super adamant about only doing music, or, I have to master this. I have to do this. I have to put all my time into this. But now that I have a little bit more room, I’m just like, let me tap back into the other things that I forgot for a second, or didn’t really have time to tend to. So, more discussions are coming, more ideas, and more crazy talks with LVRN, because that’s where the good ideas come from, and maybe an actual restaurant one day.”