Shine Through

Aloe Blacc is an emcee that started out in 1995 as part of the hip-hop duo Emanon. His solo efforts are more in the r&b vein and he has been described as the “indie R. Kelly”. But, whilst we’re on the subject of solo efforts, Aloe Blacc recently signed to Stones Throw and released an LP called Shine Through. I got it a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it. It totally showcases Aloe Blacc’s diverse array of sounds; hip-hop, r&b, latin.

The album starts with the hypnotic anthem Whole World, with its kicking beat and persistent vocals. Straight after that is Long Time Coming. The beats are heavy, but the vocals very much in an r&b essence – and in that respect it reminds me slightly of another new Stones Throw artist; Georgia Anne Muldrow. Aloe Blacc isn’t necessarily making the same sounds or type of songs as Georgia, but the distinctive crux that r&b can be produced with deep kicking beats, is what makes me draw that conclusion.

Aloe Blacc – Whole World
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 26th August.

The third track is Are You Ready, this one has an almost dancehall rhythm to it. I can just imagine this one on a hot dancefloor. It’s totally infectious and definitely wont let you stay still for long. Busking is a short track, scene set on a street with an acapella in the style of old skool rhythm and blues. If anything this just splits the tracks up nicely and showcases Aloe Blacc’s fantastic voice.

Bailar…Scene I is the first proper latin sounding track on the album. Lots of brass and samba drums. Indie r&b is a good description – it’s not weak sounding like a lot of the r&b you hear in the charts these days, the music is intricate and meticulous, and you simply cant fault Aloe Blacc’s voice. This is another track to get your head nodding, and the husky vocal fits well. Then Nascimento (Birth)…Scene II is pretty much a follow on of the last track, slightly more atmospheric feel to it, and more strings. The vocals are no longer husky, but in a higher key – splitting the track into two parts works well.

Dance For Life, although it has a great energy, does feel slightly cheesy to me. Nice beats and addictive bassline, but aside from Aloe’s consistently great voice, it doesn’t do too much for me. But onto the latin sounding Patria Mia, a track sung in Spanish – it’s catchy, but seemed like a bit of a filler track. Another short track to split up the album in the form of Shine Through is next. An acoustic ditty describing how you need to let your soul shine through.

Caged Birdsong has a great deep bassline, and instead of the usual r&b vocal, we’re treated to some rapping. The flow is good and the beat steady. It got my head nodding, anyway. Arrive takes us back into the r&b realms, but keeps the deep and steady beats going. It’s a good track, the vocal is soothing, and the different layers of the track seem to gel really well.

Want Me is another track with a good energy about it, and another for the dancefloor. Addictive and hypnotic – I just get the impression that a lot more thought goes into producing these tracks than your average r&b track. Cross-genres have been around forever, but success is only really found when the execution has provided a quality result. More artists than ever seem to be nailing cross genres, and Aloe Blacc is no different. Then we have One Inna, like Whole World, this track is a bit of an anthem. Catchy melody and vocal, all nicely structured and layered with multiple samples – a kicking beat paired with soulful sounds.

I’m Beautiful is very R. Kelly sounding. Only the good thing here is that it’s not R. Kelly, it’s Aloe Blacc. This track reminds me a bit of Sinatra’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, but in a more modern street kind of way. The next track is called Untitled I, but I can tell you now that it is John Legend’s Ordinary People, but sung by Aloe Blacc in Spanish. There’s a distinct latin feel to this cover, and it’s very good, definitely needs to be heard.

Aloe Blacc – Ordinary People (Spanish Version)
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 26th August.

Untitled II is the last track on the album, and I think this track came straight from the carnival. Being an ignorant mono-linguist, I don’t have a clue what he is singing about, but it sounds chirpy enough. I have nothing against latin music per sé, but I perhaps wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it – so although I love the blend of hip-hop and r&b on this album, I’m not totally convinced bout the latin tracks.

It all comes down to personal taste, but for me, I’d appreciate the album a bit more without the latin tracks and the tracks I said seemed a bit like filler tracks. To be fair I thought Bailar…Scene I and Nascimento (Birth)…Scene II were great, but it feels like a bit too much on the one album. Like maybe Aloe Blacc could’ve released a separate latin album or something. Still, if you love hip-hop, r&b, AND latin music, then you’ll love this album! However, if you are looking at this album as a hip-hop fan that enjoyed the Emanon stuff, you might be left disappointed if you cant stomach the r&b. Still, all in all, I enjoyed the album, it’s just no classic.

Useful links: