6LACK Interview: ‘Calling My Phone’ Success

That fortuitous pause not only reinvigorated 6LACK as he entered 2021, but caused a massive upswing in his creativity. In the last few months, the LVRN polymath has racked up a bevy of features, including on Melli’s “You Ain’t Worth It,” Lil Durk’s “Stay Down,” and most notably, Lil Tjay’s “Calling My Phone.” After being released on Feb. 12, the latter is already a smash, debuting at No. 3 this week on the Hot 100 — a career-best for both rappers.

6LACK spoke to Billboard on notching his first top five Hot 100 record, how the collaboration with Tjay came about, taking a break from music, his hopes for performing again and what to expect from his third album, which will follow 2018’s East Atlanta Love Letter.

You’ve been connecting on the features front as of late, cranking out verses for Melli, Lil Durk and most recently, Lil Tjay. Did your creativity see a spike during the pandemic? 

Oh, nah. It took big dips. It started off that kind of way for me. I was living a kind of life to where I was working so much and I was on the road that I didn’t get to tend to a lot of other things outside of music. So, when I had to sit still, I had to face a lot of stuff. I had to actually do work that wasn’t music-related, because I was sitting in the studio nonstop trying to figure out what I need to do musically to progress. I would sit there for days, weeks and months. 

Sometimes, I would get something out of it, and sometimes, I wouldn’t. When I started to focus on my life, I’d ask, “Who am I? What am I trying to get towards? Who am I trying to be? How do I get inspired in another way?” Because I can’t just always directly pull from music. I need to be getting my life in order so I can be able to create music freely, happily and easily. I took big dips, for sure, but I feel completely more tapped in than I’ve ever been.

When you hit those dips, what did you concentrate on to break you out of those ruts? 

I would travel places where I can get in the car and just go. I didn’t have to go to the airport and feel crazy about where I was going and if I was safe. It would be moments of when I would spend time with family, friends, my girlfriend and actually having conversations that I needed to have versus thinking that my source of life and creativity is totally music. 

Yeah, that’s what I do, that’s what I love and that’s what I’m good at, but I think I was in the mode of thinking that’s just who I am and anything that I do or figure out has to come from the realm of music or my responsibilities as a musician. I’m just a person in general. I’m here to experience life in as many ways that I can and I was just limiting myself subconsciously. I didn’t do it on purpose, but like I said, you’d be in work-mode and you think you’re doing what you supposed to do. “Okay, I’m accomplishing goals and I feel like I’m in the right place.” But if you leave anything else behind, then it’s going to catch up with you later. 

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