With the the Tabernacle’s sound system pelting the air in waves, Ricardo Valentine, better known as “PRBLMS” singer 6LACK (pronounced “black”) stares out into the crowd. He’s sweated through his black and yellow button-up to the point of disrobing. Later, he’ll peel off a drenched white t-shirt but keep his purple Champion hat on. He remains positioned in the center of the stage, his drummer to his right, his DJ and his keyboardist to his left. It’s Sunday night in Atlanta and many in the crowd will have a story to tell come Monday morning.
The second night of 6BLACK’s two-night Atlanta stand is electrifying. While he lacks time management—the show was scheduled to end at 10:50—his art doesn’t call for much routine. On his first solo tour in the United States, performing in his hometown, he manages to remain adherent to spontaneity and playfulness, a blessing and a curse for hit-makers like himself. At 25, 6BLACK made covering The Weeknd and Partynextdoor part of his discography early on in his career, and tonight he adds to his catalog. Before segueing into a cover of Omarion’s 2006 R&B scorcher “Ice Box,” he mentions he’d heard the song earlier that day and it was one of his favorites. Seemingly on impulse, he reminds the crowd of Omarion’s mid 2000’s run—while reminding the crowd of his age.
Just before 11:30, he segues into “Gettin’ Old,” the late blooming mid-tempo number found in the second half of his debut album, FREE 6LACK. He’s not formed in the classic emotive R&B mold and this translates to the stage in the way his voice, rarely changing in inflection or range, works. While he sounds just the same live as on wax, it’s clear he frames his vocal delivery and finds inspiration from the likes of woozy crooners like Drake and R. Kelly—only raspier. His voice could easily find a place on any album from English indie pop group The xx, singing alongside Oliver Sim.
“I can’t wait for my next show in Atlanta!” 6LACK exclaims towards the end of his set. “I hope I see all the same faces… y’all are my family and I love y’all!” He shouts out his band while he walks backstage, then declares: “I go by the name of 6LACK. This is my hometown. Peace out.”
But he’s not done. He storms back out onto the stage, to a sold out crowd, and launches into a blistering rendition of “PRBLMS,” the bass so loud in the Tabernacle it spills out onto Lucky Street.