Singer and rapper 6lack rules the music charts right now with his collaboration with Lil Tjay, "Calling My Phone." The song is introducing many fans to 6lack for the first time, though he is already well-established in the industry. Scroll down for an overview of the "Prblms" singer's career thus far.
6lack's real name is Ricardo Valdez Valentine Jr., and he was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1992 but moved to Atlanta, Georgia at a young age. According to the House of Blues' Music Forward Foundation, Valentine's father worked at a recording studio, where he encountered the atmosphere from a young age. He began rapping in middle school, and grew up with other break-out Atlanta artists like Young Thug. Valentine went from Stone Mountain High School to Valdosta State University, but left college in 2011 when he signed his first record deal.
Even after signing to Flo Rida's Strong Arm Records, however, Valentine struggled. In an interview with GQ, he revealed that he moved to Miami, Florida to work with the label but he had little financial stability. When he couldn't sleep in the recording studio, he said, he was reduced to sleeping on the street. During this time, he continued to release most of his music on SoundCloud. Eventually, he left Strong Arm and signed with Love Renaissance and Interscope Records.
Unlike many other artists of his generation, Valentine's climb to prominence was gradual in some ways. He had a few notable collaborations and guest spots but most fans would agree that his break-out moment was the release of his single "Prblms," which peaked at number 73 on the Billboard Hot 100. It promoted his debut studio album, Free 6lack, which reached number 34 on the Billboard 200.
From there, Valentine went on to collaborate with artists like Khalid and Ty Dolla Sign on songs like "OTW" and "Switch," steadily gaining traction as he went. Heavy-hitters like Future, J. Cole and Offset were featured on his second album, East Atlanta Love Letter. In early 2020, Valentine reached even deeper into the mainstream when he featured on Selena Gomez's song "Crowded Room."
Today, the 28-year-old Valentine is still on the rise with the chart-topping "Calling My Phone." He is considered by many the face of the more emotive, vulnerable side of hip-hop on the rise. 6lack's music is available now on streaming services and at record stores.