Aloe Blacc, during his visit to Kenya for his concert at the Blankets Wine event, had a session where he spoke to Kenyan artistes at Pawa 254 on 12th April 2016. During this hours’ long session, he got to share a few details on his life, journey and purpose as an artist. He also answered questions that his fans asked him.
- His full name is Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III, – He started writing music and playing the trumpet at age nine in the third grade. He later stopped, because he didn’t think it was cool, at that time. During the talk-back however, he said that he wished he continued to play because playing an instrument is now one of the coolest things and it would enhance his musicianship.
2. Aloe tried everything musically – Largely influenced by LL Cool J, Aloe began rapping at age 15 and with time got to record his rap and MC alongside other rappers. He wasn’t a trained singer but the record label he then worked with liked his singing so he started to learn though he didn’t have a particular sound.
3. He has worked with Amy Winehouse and Adele – His then label suggested he went to Truth & Soul label, which also worked with the likes of Amy Winehouse and Adele, to develop his sound. For five years there, (2005-2010) he released nothing; it was sort of an incubation period just creating music. He grew into his style as a soul artist and began to do music which is considered quite unique by many.
4. Collaborated with Avicii – “I need a dollar” was his claim to fame. Aloe explained that the song talks about the difficulties people face financially but the persona in the song asks not for a handout but a hand up. He collaborated with Avicii in the major hit, “Wake me up” in 2013. When asked about the importance of collaborations if any, he states that it is very important to collaborate with songwriters, actors, producers and even organizations because it is nearly impossible to do anything on your own.
5. His art is with a message – Converting the ignorant; those who don’t know they don’t know. Aloe’s music videos such as Wake me up and The Man carry such strong themes.
“It costs a lot to make music videos- but it costs more not to say anything,”
6. He is an Artivist – Aside from being a musician, Aloe Blacc is what he describes as an “Artivist”. He uses his art to reach out to the society.
“It is our duty to raise questions about discrepancies,”
He also urges artists/artivists to be entrepreneurs as well, to think and act in ways that empower your people socially as well as economically,
“It’s okay to have a day job as you create your art”.
7. Aloe is also involved in Malaria No More – A charity organization whose mission is to end malaria deaths, through engaging leaders, rallying the public, and delivering life-saving tools and education to families across Africa. This may lead to a collabo with Octopizzo, an active ambassador of the cause, fingers crossed.
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