5 Things To Know About 6lack
Did you know he got his start in battle rap?
June 30, 2022 at 1:19 pm
In an era of music where artists make hits in the hopes of going viral, it’s often difficult to spot real talent. That has never been the case with 6lack. For more than 10 years, the Baltimore-born, Atlanta-raised singer and rapper has treated fans to hits you might not see alongside a choreographed routine on TikTok but would rather play when you’re deep in thought.
Born Ricardo Valdez Valentine Jr., his 2016 single “Prblms” was the 6lack introduction most audiences remember. Since then, the MTV Music Video Award winner has released two full-length albums and has teamed up with the likes of J. Cole and T-Pain. Though he maintains a rather private life, we found five interesting facts about 6lack, including the explanation behind his stage name.
1. The interesting meaning behind his stage name
Pronounced “black,” 6lack told Complex in January 2017 that the six in his stage moniker was a name he’s had since his youth growing up in Atlanta.
“I got it from my OGs and just all the people in my neighborhood,” he said. “Over the years, the meaning of it just took on its own life — from being from Zone 6 to being more in tune with spiritual stuff and my life path, being born in the 6. It’s just a number that followed me forever.”
The 30-year-old even named his daughter, whom he shares with singer, writer and model Jaycina Almond, Syx Rose Valentine.
2. He got his start in battle rap
Before he was a three-time Grammy-nominated musician, 6lack was once a battle rapper. In a March 2017 profile with GQ, the “Pretty Little Fears” artist detailed his commitment to the craft and revealed his favorite battle rapper.
Middle school is when I got super obsessed with battle rapping. Cassidy was my favorite battle rapper ever. All day in school, if I wasn’t doing my work, I would be battling in the cafeteria, on the track outside the gym, in the hallways. Somebody would always be tapping me, like, ‘Yo, somebody think they can freestyle better than you.’ And I’d be like, ‘Cool, well, let’s go figure it out.’ I changed schools a lot, but no matter what school I went to, I would always bring that with me, and that would always kind of be a new thing for people to be excited about in school. Because, obviously, when you’re a kid in school, the last thing you want to do is just be there and do school shit all day.”
— black (@6LACK) April 21, 2015
3. An advocate for the mental health of BIPOC young adults
Last October, in honor of World Mental Health Day, 6lack announced a partnership with Mental Health America of Los Angeles and worldwide therapy platform BetterHelp.
Alongside his PSA, the philanthropist revealed he and the aforementioned organizations were donating six months of therapy to BIPOC patients between the ages of 18 and 25 to support their mental health needs.
“I’ve always done check-ins with myself to see how I feel about myself, life and the things around me. I will say it wasn’t until recent, that I actually learned the importance of getting to the source of the things that don’t make me feel great,” 6lack said, via Billboard. “I want to share my experiences and talk about the resources/things that helped me, in order to spark people to do the same for themselves. Sometimes support is all you need to take the first step, so I want my first step to encourage someone else’s first step.”
4. How a car accident changed his perspective on life
As you can deduce, the number six holds a lot of meaning to 6lack. Another reason he felt drawn to the digit came after being involved in a car accident several years back. Thankfully, he came out unscathed. But his recollection of the event to GQ is chilling.
“It wasn’t even my show. I was tagging along with the homies, and we were deciding on if we wanted to stay in the city we were in or drive late at night to the next city. And we chose to drive. The person who was driving fell asleep behind the wheel and from there, it was like a lot of spins.”
He continued: “I woke up in the middle of the accident. I woke up while we were spinning. And I knew what was coming. As fast and as hard as we were spinning, I just braced myself, like, “We’re about to flip.” So we spun and then we started flipping. We flipped off the road and into this ditch. I woke up upside down and crawled out of there. I was unscratched.”
5. Who are 6lack's influences?
“I feel like it ranges all over the place. I could literally say Sade and then T-Pain, and The-Dream, and I could say Usher,” he told Complex. “I get so many different sounds that come within R&B and soul so I just kinda pull from a little bit of everything.”
It’s been a minute since we’ve been treated to an album (four years, to be exact) from 6lack. But that hasn’t stopped him from sharing his craft with fans. In honor of Juneteenth this year, he covered “Umi Says,” the 1999 classic by Yasiin Bey. Let’s hope this is a clue that a third project is on the way.