Stones Throw, Los Angeles
A multi-instrumentalist who (to paraphrase Archie Bell & The Drells) not only raps but sings just as good as he wants, Aloe Blacc is truly a product of his environment. Born to Panamanian parents in Orange County, California, Aloe grew up surrounded by the notoriously playful West coast hip hop scene and formed the group Emanon with buddy DJ Exile while still in high school. Together they recorded a full-length LP, ‘The Waiting Room’, for Shaman Work in 2005. After that Aloe went on to further his solo career – with Emanon on hold but not disbanded, as they are both keen to stress – releasing his stunning debut album ‘Shine Through’ on Stones Throw one year later. Fusing acoustic guitar-driven folk tunes, digital r&b seduction suites and polyrhythmic workouts with his well versatile vocal skills, he even had the cojones to pull off a Latinized rendition of John Legend’s ‘Ordinary People’. His sophomore effort, ‘Good Times’, saw him emphatically emphasizing his soul credentials, alongside Brooklyn production outfit Truth & Soul. A heartfelt tribute to the timeless tunes of Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, the album yielded the modern-day classic ‘I Need A Dollar’ and turned him into one of the most charismatic soul crooners of today. Bravo, Aloe!