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Born to Panamanian parents in Los Angeles in 1979, E. Nathaniel Dawkins (aka Aloe Blacc) first began playing trumpet in elementary school, and continued with the instrument throughout high school. There he also independently released Imaginary Friends, produced by DJ Exile, with whom he would go on to form the hip-hop group Emanon. While at college at USC, though his artistic endeavors were placed behind his scholastic goals, Aloe still managed to learn how to play the guitar and the piano, and after graduating and spending some time in the corporate world, he decided to return to his first love, music. In 2005 Emanon's full-length debut, The Waiting Room, came out on Shaman Works, and the next year his first solo album, Shine Through, a combination of retro-soul and Latin music, was released on Stones Throw. He partnered with the Truth & Soul Productions crew for 2010's more organic effort Good Things. The album featured the single "I Need a Dollar," which reached the Top Ten in several countries, including the U.K. and Germany. The song was licensed for use as the theme song to the HBO show How to Make It in America. In 2013, Aloe co-wrote and fronted Avicii's "Wake Me Up," an international smash hit that reached the Top Five of Billboard's Hot 100. His third album, Lift Your Spirit, was released in some territories later that year. In the U.S., it was issued through Interscope in early 2014.
Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III (born January 7, 1979), better known as Aloe Blacc (/ˈæoʊ æ/), is an American rapper, songwriter, singer, actor, record producer, businessman and musician. He is best known for his singles "I Need a Dollar", UK No. 1 single "The Man", and for writing and performing vocals on Avicii's "Wake Me Up", which charted at #1 in 22 countries.Doyle, Patrick. "How Avicii Helped Aloe Blacc Wake Up and Break Out". August 28, 2013. Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 22, 2013. Lancaster, Elizabeth. "Avicii Describes His 'Straight-Away' Attraction To 'Wake Me Up'". September 5, 2013. MTV. Retrieved October 23, 2013. "Aloe Blacc Teams with NDLON, abc* Foundation for Acoustic Video of No. 1 "Wake Me Up"". October 24, 2013 (Reuter's). October 23, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
Blacc was born in Southern California's Orange County to Panamanian parents. Growing up in Laguna Hills, he began playing a rented trumpet in third grade. When it made more sense to buy the instrument, Blacc had what he later described as a "very specific moment" in his evolution as a musician. "It forced me to be serious about it. I couldn’t just do it to get out of the class room," he said in a 2010 interview. His exposure to LL Cool J in fourth grade was equally significant. "It wasn’t too far off from the trumpet moment...I had a Hip Hop moment and a musician moment."
Blacc attended the University of Southern California, and graduated in 2001. He worked briefly in the corporate sector, for EY.Complex Mag. "Interview: Aloe Blacc Talks New Album, Touring, and His Rap Past". August 20, 2012. Complex. Retrieved 26 October 2013. Bose, Lillideshan. "Retro Soul Singer and OC Local Aloe Blacc Talks About his Socio-Political Fetish". September 28, 2010. OC Weekly. Retrieved October 24, 2013. Vasquez, Andre. "Underground Report: Aloe Blacc & Exile". September 17, 2010. Hip Hop DX. Retrieved October 24, 2013. Weiss, Jeff (November 14, 2010). "Rappers Flow Towards Singing". November 14, 2010 (Los Angeles TImes). Retrieved October 28, 2013.
ContentsCareer1.1 Early career1.2 2003–09: Shine Through1.3 2010–11: Good Things1.4 2012–present: Major label debut Lift Your Spirit
In 1995, Blacc teamed with hip hop producer Exile and formed Emanon -- 'no name' backwards—which was inspired by the title of a Dizzy Gillespie song. With break-beat loops and jazz samples, Emanon became a mainstay of the indie rap underground, and released their first mixtape in 1996, followed by the EP Acid 9 in 1999. They subsequently released three albums, Steps Through Time (2001), Imaginary Friends (2002), and The Waiting Room (2005). A fourth album, Bird's Eye View, was recorded but never released. While Emanon was Blacc's primary project during this time period, he additionally toured and recorded with the members of the collective Lootpack and worked with the French jazz group Jazz Liberatorz.
2003–09: Shine ThroughMain article: Shine Through
Blacc launched his career as a solo artist in 2003, releasing two EPs, and signing to Stone's Throw Records in 2006, after label head Chris Manak (known as Peanut Butter Wolf) heard Blacc and immediately offered him a contract for the 2006 full-length Shine Through. By then, he had become more focused on songwriting, a change inspired in part by his social consciousness. "I was uncomfortable with the state of Hip Hop being largely about the expression of ego. I wondered how I could be more crafty at writing songs in the form of a rap that actually expressed more than ego, style and finesse," he stated. "I figured I would educate myself to learn more about songwriting and apply that later to hip hop."
Shine Through was Blacc's first full-length album and was released in 2006. It received significant media attention in the U.S. and abroad. Pitchfork wrote that Shine Through had "flashes of keen musical interpolation" and signaled "some sort of greatness,", NPR named the track "Nascimento" as song of the day, and Absolute Punk noted that Shine Through flows beautifully from one track to the next, infusing old-school funk and soul with a modern essence that makes it incredibly unique Also in 2009, while working on his second album, Blacc toured Europe and the United States with Emanon, and collaborated with the Japanese hip hop producer Cradle on a project called Bee.
2010–11: Good ThingsMain article: Good Things (Aloe Blacc album)
In 2010, Blacc released Good Things on Stones Throw Records. A commercial success, Good Things was certified gold in the UK, France, Germany and Australia, among other countries, and ultimately hit double platinum sales. The single "I Need A Dollar", which was used as the theme song to the HBO series How To Make It in America, reached 1 million in sales in 2013; two additional singles, "Loving You Is Killing Me" and "Green Lights" became European hits as well. Good Things was praised by the media, receiving positive reviews in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Spin, NME, and Entertainment Weekly, among others. Shortly after the release of the record, Blacc signed with Simon Fuller's XIX Management.
In 2011, Blacc contributed a track to the album Red Hot + Rio 2, a follow-up to the 1996 Red Hot + Rio, with all proceeds donated to raise money and awareness to fight AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues. That summer, Blacc performed on the main stages at major festivals such as Glastonbury and The Falls Festival in Australia with his primary touring band The Grand Scheme. In 2012 he appeared at the renowned North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam, Lollapalooza (Chicago) and Osheaga (Montreal).
2012–present: Major label debut Lift Your SpiritMain article: Lift Your Spirit
In 2012, Blacc joined a music project, Roseaux established by Emile Omar. Other musicians include Alex Finkin and Clement Petit. The band released its debut self-titled album Roseaux, with all eleven tracks featuring the vocals of Aloe Blacc. The album reached #92 in French Albums Chart. The debut single, "More Than Material", peaked at #80 on the French singles chart.
Aloe Blacc, was brought in contact to Swedish DJ Avicii by Linkin Park's co-vocalist Mike Shinoda who is a good friend of Avicii. As a result, in 2013, Blacc co-wrote the song "Wake Me Up" with Avicii. With Blacc on vocals, the song reached #1 in 103 countries and became the fastest selling single in the UK, selling 267,000 copies in its first week. He also collaborated with Avicii on a track called "Liar Liar" that also featured Blondfire. In September of that year, Blacc signed with Interscope Records and released an EP, titled Wake Me Up EP. The five-track EP included the songs "Love is the Answer", "Can You Do This", and "Ticking Bomb", as well as an acoustic version of "Wake Me Up". "Ticking Bomb" was used as the background music for the new Battlefield 4 game TV advert, and "The Man" as background music for the Beats by Dr. Dre commercials featuring Kevin Garnett, Colin Kaepernick, Richard Sherman and Cesc Fàbregas. "Ticking Bomb" is also the theme for the WWE Pay-Per-View Payback.
In October 2013, Blacc released the music video for the track "Wake Me Up". Blacc collaborated with the immigrant rights group National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the ABC* Foundation's Healing Power of Music Initiative. The is director Alex Rivera. The cast were real life immigrant activists: Hareth Andrade Ayala (a Virginia leader in the immigrant youth movement working to stop her own father's deportation), Agustin Chiprez Alvarez (a Los Angeles day laborer), and Margarita Reyes who was deported with her mother as a child despite being born in the U.S.
Blacc's Interscope/XIX debut, Lift Your Spirit, was released in November 2013, and featured production by Pharrell, DJ Khalil, and songwriter Harold Lilly, among others. In the UK, he helped promote his album by performing tracks from it on Later... with Jools Holland.
Released in May 2014, Blacc features on the song "The World is Ours" on the album One Love, One Rhythm, a compilation album released for the 2014 FIFA World Cup which was held in Brazil in June and July 2014.
It was announced that Blacc would be the guest advisor for Adam Levine's team on Season 6 of The Voice.
Aloe performed "America the Beautiful" to open WrestleMania 31 at the Levi's stadium in California.
On May 5, 2015, a sneak peek of Owl City's upcoming song "Verge" featuring Aloe Blacc aired on ESPN's "Draft Academy." The song was released on May 14, 2015.Cite error: The named reference Hip_Hop_DX was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Weiss, Jeff (November 14, 2010). "Rapper Flows Toward Singing". November 14, 2010 (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 24 October 2013. "Emanon - Acid 9". Discogs. Retrieved October 24, 2013. Fennessey, Sean. "Aloe Blacc: Shine Through". December 15, 2006. Pitchfork. Retrieved 24 October 2013. Murph, John. "Blissful Optimism Fades into Doubt". July 10, 2006. NPR/Song of the Day. Retrieved October 22, 2013. Walker, Ian. "Aloe Blacc - Good Things". October 9, 2010. Absolute Punk. Vozick-Levinson, Simon. "Aloe Blacc's 'I Need a Dollar' (the awesome 'How to Make It in America' theme song) gets a music video". April 5, 2010. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 26 October 2013. "Archival Charts (Soundscan)". 2013. Neilson Soundscan (by subscription only). Retrieved 26 October 2013. Parkin, Chris. "Album Review: Aloe Blacc - Good Thing". September 24, 2010. NME. Retrieved October 23, 2013. Kennedy, Adam. "Aloe Blacc Good Things Review". September 27, 2010. BBC. Retrieved October 23, 2013. Reeves, Mosi. "Aloe Blacc Good Things". September 9, 2010. Spin. Retrieved 23 October 2013. Martens, Todd (December 2, 2010). "72 Hours: Os Mutantes, Aloe Blacc and the Wu-Tang Clan top this weekend's shows". December 2, 2010 (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved October 23, 2013. CMU Staff. "Fuller company forms label with Sony". November 24, 2011. CMU. Retrieved October 26, 2013. How Avicii helped aloe blacc wake up and break out. Rolling Stone Renshaw, David. "Avicii's mix of EDM and country has given ravers a wake-up call". October 24, 2013. The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2013. Kawashima, Dale. "Interview with John Ehmann, Senior Director of A&R at Interscope Records". 2013. Songwriter Universe. Retrieved 26 October 2013. Lewis, Brittany. "Aloe Blacc Releases Pharrell-Produced New Single". September 25, 2013. Global Grind. Retrieved October 26, 2013. Le, Van. "MUST-WATCH: "WAKE ME UP", FEATURING ALOE BLACC AND DREAMER HARETH ANDRADE". October 23, 2013. America's Voice. Retrieved October 26, 2013. Le, Van. [MUST-WATCH: “WAKE ME UP,” FEATURING ALOE BLACC AND DREAMER HARETH ANDRADE "MUST-WATCH: "WAKE ME UP," FEATURING ALOE BLACC AND DREAMER HARETH ANDRADE"]. October 23, 2013. America's Voice. Retrieved October 26, 2013. "Aloe Blacc Teams with NDLON, abc* Foundation for Acoustic Video of No. 1 "Wake Me Up"". October 23, 2013. Herald Online (Via Interscope). Retrieved October 24, 2013. Sciaretto, Amy. "Aloe Blacc to Release "Lift Your Spirit" in Early 2014". August 20, 2013. ARTISTdirect. Retrieved October 26, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b043hk0l "Aloe Blacc releases world cup anthem", mtv.co.uk; accessed September 26, 2014. "Twitter/NBCTheVoice: Drumroll please...@adamlevine's". Twitter.com. 2014-02-10. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
Blacc is actively involved in Malaria No More. The charity's mission is to end malaria deaths, through "engaging leaders, rallying the public, and delivering life-saving tools and education to families across Africa.""Mission Statement". 2013. Malaria No More. Retrieved 23 October 2013. Blacc, Aloe (April 19, 2012). "My Journey Of Discovery In Ghana With Malaria No More UK". April 19, 2012 (Huffington Post). Retrieved October 22, 2013.
Aloe Blacc is married to Australian rapper Maya Jupiter. In 2013, they had their first child."Who is Aloe Blacc? You already know him". Chicago Now. Retrieved September 26, 2014.