“Billie Jean”, by Aloe Blacc and The Grand Scheme. RIP MJ.
Such is the case for Aloe Blacc, the multi talented artist who’s on the verge of a breakout year. Already creating a huge buzz with his soulful modernized hustle anthem “I Need Dollar,” which speaks to the majority of middle aged youth just trying to make it in society. Blacc, the West Coast native who’s no newbie to the industry and has been in the game for over 15 years, mainly known for his partnership with Exile and there group Emanon. In a world where a once love filled relationship is quickly souring, Blacc is an epitome of what the music world needs right now, and could be the jolt everyone has been so anxiously awaiting for.
Hollywood Q: As a person and artist, who is Aloe Blacc?
Aloe Blacc: I am pretty much a peaceful guy. I am a musician, academician, and entrepreneur. I like to learn and create. Mostly, I see myself as a producer as opposed to a consumer. I don’t spend much time shopping or seeking comfort externally or from material items.
How did the connection with Stones Throw happen?
I met Oh No on tour in Europe and when we returned home, we started recording an album together. The label liked the songs that I was singing and asked me to do a vocal single. That lead to me signing an album deal for Shine Through.
If “Shine Through” was an introduction to your sound, what should we expect “Good Things” to be?
“Shine Through” introduced me as a multi-genre artist and “Good Things” is an album that focuses specifically on the genre of soul music. I think that it makes sense for me to offer my audience a concentrated presentation in an album every once in a while.
Any elements in daily life help you during the process of the upcoming album?
Driving, walking, cleaning, cooking, showering, exercising, and almost anything that requires some rote activity helps me come up with new ideas. Often times, just listening to really good music is the way to spark inspiration. Some of my lyrics are responses to other amazing songs from the past or influenced by music that is revolutionary to me.
Besides being a singer-songwriter, your also an emcee, do you remember what song it was that got you into hip hop?
The song that I think got me into hip hop was Roxanne Roxanne by UTFO. When I was in kindergarten there was an older student on my bus who would let me listen to his walkman. I always wanted him to play that song.
You characterize Hip Hop as being “A young mans tool for magnifying his ego” explain?
Hip Hop music serves many purposes but it seems today in the mainstream it is largely about ego. In the past, and in the contemporary underground, there are examples of songs that address social, cultural and political issues. However, they are often drowned out by the drone of empty machismo today.
Your parents are Panamanian, can we expect more Latin influenced work in the future?
There will definitely be more Latin influenced music in the future. I am always writing and creating new music and many of my unreleased songs have underlying Latin rhythms. Sometimes I bury the Latin elements to see how people respond to them even though the final production may not readily sound like there is Latin.
Explain the process of your “I Need A Dollar” track becoming the theme song for How To Make It In America? What’s your take on the show?
HBO wanted to find a song that matched the theme of the show and the music supervisor contacted Stones Throw to submit songs to choose from. “I Need a Dollar” was one of the songs in the bunch that the label sent and it was chosen right away. I think the show portrays the struggle that many of us 20-30 somethings are going through. We don’t really want to work for “the man” and we all have big dreams of being “the man” in some respects.
That song is a true anthem of the everyday struggles most individuals are facing now, was that your inspiration for creating the track?
Well, it is definitely a timely song, but I actually started developing the lyrics back at the peak of the housing boom. Sometimes a song needs time to make sense and the current economic depression is the right time. I used to be a business consultant and I was laid off, so part of the song refers directly to personal experience.
Aloe Blacc 2006 and Aloe Blacc 2010 – what’s the difference life wise?
In 2006, I thought I had seen a lot of the world, but since then I have been to a couple more continents. I am engaged and trying to decide what country I want to live in. I have a few more unreleased albums now than I did back then as well. Hopefully, I will get a chance to release them all.
Interview with Hollywood Q published at cafemaroon.com April 5, 2010