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Aloe Blacc On 'World Cafe: Next'

The resurgence of old-school soul has everyone wondering, can these new chaps really compete with the soul stars of yesteryear? Perhaps not, but Aloe Blacc definitely shines with potential. Born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins, Aloe Blacc is a first-generation American of Panamanian descent who combines soul with rap, hip-hop, salsa, jazz, R&B and tropicalia. The MC got his start in 1995 when he formed the indie rap group Emanon with hip-hop producer Exile.

“My purpose for music is positive social change,” says the clever wordsmith. Filled with hints of social commentary, optimism and a Latin cover of John Legend's "Ordinary People" ("Gente Ordinaria"), Aloe's first album Shine Away immediately placed him on tastemakers' radar.

Since that 2006 release, Aloe has matured into a passionate songwriter with a sound that steers heavily into soulful territory. With production and instrumentation from Brooklyn's Truth & Soul collective, Aloe's latest album Good Things is tightly centered around vintage-sounding '60s and '70s soul along with empowering political lyrics that address social issues and the hope of change. The lead track, "I Need a Dollar," was featured as the opening song for HBO's How to Make It In America. Surely, the album will put some classics to the test upon its release on Sept. 28.

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