As an avid music listener growing up in a Caribbean household, Aloe Blacc was introduced to a bevy sounds from a young age that resulted in the blend musical styles heard in his music today. Before dishing out hits like “Wake Me Up,” “I’m the Man” and “I Need a Dollar,” Blacc's musical journey began with LL Cool J’s Bigger and Deffer album.
“I was supposed to dance to Michael Jackson’s 'Bad' for a community play and my dad, totally unaware what I was asking him for, just bought whatever record said 'Bad' on it. So one my first style icons in terms rap was LL Cool J because I had the Bigger and Deffer album,” he told Billboard over the phone. “I wrote all my first raps in his style over the years and I just continued to write and develop my own style as an MC.”
After studying a slew sample-based hip-hop songs that featured jazz, rhythm and blues and folk sounds, Blacc made his transition from rapper to singer and birthed his own distinct style, fusing his soulful folk voice with his love for classic boom-bap. Now for his upcoming documentary, America’s Musical Journey, Blacc is embarking upon his own trip to explore America’s musical roots and the cultures and legends that helped build America’s music heritage.
Below, Billboard caught up with Blacc to discuss America’s Musical Journey and the influence musical luminaries had on his career.