6lack Rebel, Toronto ON, November 18

6lack Rebel, Toronto ON, November 18
Photo: Matt Forsythe
It was a cool quirk of the touring schedule that his Toronto show happened to fall on the same day that debut album Free 6lack was released exactly two years ago. The Atlanta-raised artist — born Ricardo Valdez Valentine — exists in that curious space where "rapper" is appended to his name in some places and "R&B singer" in others, depending on perspective. Artists of this ilk are content to have it both ways, particularly in this genre-less streaming world we live in.
A lot as happened for the Atlanta-based artist on a personal (a daughter) and professional level (increased recognition and a Grammy nod). He said as much to the full house at Rebel, expounding on his life situation and appreciation to be at the level he's at — a long way from sleeping in a recording studio to this level of fame — recalling his earlier visits to the city that's clearly been supportive, judging by the sing-alongs in the crowd.
The set featured cuts off his 2016 debut — "For the Day Ones in the audience" — and the recently released East Atlanta Love Letter. Solid renditions of "Ex Calling," "Switch" and "East Atlanta Love Letter" were performed and felt.
But just like the lone orange balloon floating in the crowd, the night felt satisfying but not mind-blowing.  "We're at a 9.2 right now. Can we get to a 10?" asks 6lack with a soft-spoken voice. On some nights, a concert energy is just at an okay level — no extreme high, no regretful low, just chill.
"I don't just write these songs for you guys. I also write them to remind me of the things I still have to work on in my personal life," he says during an interlude. With that in mind, "Luving U" connected, as did "Let Her Go" and "PRBLMS." Energy levels definitely peaked for "Pretty Little Fears" and a taste of "OTW."
6lack is effectively an R&B singer in a rapper's stance and an artist who continues to grow and impress on a musical level. That's how it was on this night, 6lack's latest trip to Toronto.

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