Grammy Award-nominated rapper/singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc was born and raised in Los Angeles and grew up listening to salsa, merengue, and cumbia. As a kid, he fell in love with hip-hop and started writing rap songs when he was nine, going on to release his first hip-hop mixtape at age 17. Later developing a fierce admiration for such soul musicians as Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye, he also discovered an affinity for folk-rock singer/songwriters during his college years. “One of the most important factors in my transition from hip-hop to being a singer was listening to people like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Kris Kristofferson, and Cat Stevens,” Blacc says. “Their songs are full of emotion that’s expressed in strong lyrics, and that had a big impact on me.”
Looking back on his musical path so far, Blacc notes that landing a deal with XIX Recordings/Interscope prompted a major moment of reckoning, and led him to re-examine his artistic intentions. “When I signed a major-label contract, I recognized the power of having a larger audience, and I promised myself that I’d use my voice for social change,” he says. And in creating his upcoming album, Blacc has kept focused on making music meant to inspire a positive shift in mindset. “When things happening in the world seem so terrible and dark, it’s so easy to get stuck in all the negative,” he says. “But I try to do whatever I can to help people out of that. I want my music to be the light.”
How we met:
We met Aloe through our friends at the Otis Redding Foundation who enlisted him to be a part of our 50th-anniversary version of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” Song Around The World. We filmed him at a unique ranch located outside of Los Angeles and he blew us away with his soulful vocals and kind heart.