Aloe Blacc Biography

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    Aloe Blacc Biography

  • Aloe Blacc is a Southern California-based rapper, neo-soul singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and general renaissance man, who is known for fluid lyrical constructions in both Spanish and English. Since he began performing in 1995 as half of the indie rap duo Emanon (alongside DJ Exile), he has graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Communication and Linguistics/Psychology in 2001, released a full-length album on Stones Throw Records entitled Shine Through (2006), and collaborated with Japanese producer Cradle for a side project called Bee in 2008. He has also become somewhat of cult hero on USC campus for parodying the Biz Markie’s song “Just a Friend” as “I Love USC (And I Hate UCLA).”
  • Born E. Nathaniel Dawkins to Panamanian parents in Orange County in 1979, his father was an English professor in Panama (and later military in the US) and his mother a stay at home disciplinarian who stressed grades. He began playing trumpet at a young age, continuing through high school where he met DJ Exile. He began playing guitar and piano at this time, and took the name Aloe Blacc based on aloe representing the lotion smoothness of his rapping. Though he always had a passion for music, by the time he went to USC on a full-ride scholarship he was mainly concentrated on studying, making music as a secondary pursuit. In 1999 he wrote the aforementioned “I Love USC (And I Hate UCLA)” for a talent show called “Showtime at the Bovard, and he won the $500 grand prize. A year later, he released a 10-song compilation of songs by fellow USC students, and credited his Biz Markie parody to Tommy Trojan
  • He went to Europe in the late 1990s with Lootpack—the three-headed hip-hop machine of Madlib, DJ Romes and Wildchild—as a “stow away.” The act was signed to Peanut Butter Wolf’s label, Stones Throw, his eventual label for the full-length Shine Through. During the trip he became friends with rapper Oh No, Madlib’s brother, who would later produce and collaborate with him.
  • In 2005, as a core member of the collaborative effort Emanon with his long-time partner Exile, Shaman Works Recordings released The Waiting Room, the duo’s vaulted debut that showed off Aloe Blacc’s wares as a songwriter and performer. A year later, Shine Through (2006) came out on Stones Throw, and it was a showcase of Aloe Blacc’s Latin-tinged mellifluous voice over the pulse of trip-hop and staccato beats. His delivery prompted on description of Aloe Blacc as “the indie R. Kelly.” The album was also a testament to his production ability, as he meticulously produced all but two of the album’s 16 tracks. One of tracks he didn’t oversee, the Oh No-produced adaptation of Sam Cooke’s song “A Change Is Gonna Come” called “Long Time Coming,” stood out as an innovative R&B page-turner. A couple of the songs on the album stayed true to his Panama roots, such as an in-Spanish remix of John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” and Palenque’s “Severa,” while others—like the bluesy “Busking”—show off his range and admiration of negro spirituals, folk music and blues.
  • His next album was Good Things (Stones Throw)— in late 2010, and features the soulful single “I Need a Dollar.” That track was aptly selected as the intro to the HBO show, How To Make it In America, with the singles "Loving You Is Killing Me" and "Green Lights" appearing in 2011. In 2013 Blacc collaborated with Swedish DJ Avicci and produced the international number one hit "Wake Me Up," putting both artists into the strosphere in popularity the world over. That same year Blacc released his latest- and first for new label Interscope- CD entitled Lift Your Spirit.