December 6, 2010


The Evolution Of Aloe Blacc (NPR, 10/30/10)

Rapper turned retro-soul crooner Aloe Blacc never planned to make a career out of music. A graduate of the University of Southern California, he's made a living in corporate America as a business consultant. But when he was laid off, Blacc saw it as an opportunity to capitalize on his musical inclinations, and he launched a new career as half of the rap duo Emanon. Around the same time, though, he began to draw inspiration from singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone and James Taylor.

"Hip-hop educated me about other forms of music, because it sampled from all different styles," Blacc says. "Salsa, classic rock, soul music, jazz ... all of that was a part of my education in making hip-hop music."

Today, Blacc has strayed far from those roots. Heavily influenced by the gospel call-and-response in chain-gang recordings, his hit "I Need a Dollar" established him as a credible soul singer. The track taps into the social consciousness reflected on his latest album Good Things, which juxtaposes an old soul sound with contemporary sentiments and social commentary.

Aloe Blacc: Good Things (L. Michael Gipson, 12/01/10, Creative Loafing)
Aloe Blacc's Good Things is a lean, mean collection of tales for such a time as this. With its gritty lyricism and cinematic Memphis-soul sound, it has all the makings of a '70s classic with '90s hip-hop cred. "I Need a Dollar," the driving theme for HBO's "How To Make It in America" series and the country-soul "Green Lights" are among many direct hits to the listener's heart. What he lacks in vocal range, Blacc mightily makes up for in a compassionate, matter-of-fact tone perfect for these readings. Still, on unexpected cuts like "Mama Hold My Hand" and "If I," Blacc goes to the wailing floor and delivers searing blues.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 6, 2010 5:45 AM
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