Aloe Blacc is a great believer in keeping things smooth. When the Laguna Beach, Calif.-bred, Los Angeles-based singer, born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III, was choosing the first name of his alias, he went with a plant associated with a famous kind of lotion. Other potential monikers were Sirocco and Aeolus, two sorts of wind — the former, a Mediterranean hurricane-force gale; the latter, the ruler of wind in Greek mythology — that look striking in print. For his surname, he substituted the “K” in “Black” for a second “C” — “K,” you see, is a harsher consonant.
The emphasis on precision and style plays a central role in the appeal of this Indie-Hip-Hop-MC-turned-crooner’s brand of ’60s/’70s-esque Soul.
The chain gang-inspired song, “I Need a Dollar,” which served as the theme to the now-defunct HBO show How to Make It in America, was a standout on Good Things, Blacc’s 2010 album. Owing to a combination of catchiness and confidence in its aesthetic roots, “I Need a Dollar” was a hard-luck anthem prone to hardwiring itself into your head.Blacc’s third and latest record, Lift Your Spirit, has a notable cut of its own, too. “The Man” has been making moves across international charts and already replaced “I Need a Dollar” as his trademark tune. A hymn of self-empowerment, “The Man” contains the rich texture and sense of triumph of a classic Soul tune; its video features appropriate era callbacks, recreating anti-Vietnam War protests and the black power salute at the 1968 Olympics. If you want to turn back the clock while sticking to contemporary releases, Blacc’s throwbacks nail all the right notes.
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