Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “I Need a Dollar (How to Make It in America)” by Aloe Blacc from the forthcoming album Good Things on Stones Throw.
Aloe Blacc is a quickly rising star of a soul singer from southern California. Blacc got his start in the 80’s first as an MC and rapper in the indie rap duo Emanon. Charged with elements of jazz, R&B and of course hip-hop, Blacc eventually found his calling as a solo artist (with production assistance from Peanut Butter Wolf, Madlib and Oh No). His first album, Shine Through (released in 2006, also on Stones Throw), was an exceptional, albeit mixed, bag of a debut. Running the genre gamut of everything from hip-hop, folk and salsa, Shine Through was clearly an album created by an artist in search of his sound. Fast forward four years, and we now find critics praising the transition to his second album, Good Things, with lofty comparisons to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. While Blacc has never placed himself (or his new record) in the same league as Gaye, the maturation from first to second album is crystal clear. According to Blacc, Good Things consciously “takes one color from the spectrum that Shine Through was,” effectively focusing the sonic prism and cementing his place as a soul singer above all else.
Commissioned by HBO for the television series How to Make It in America, the lead single off Good Things, called “I Need A Dollar,” is a gritty soul anthem about success’s great common denominator. The streetwise piano driven rhythm brooding beneath Blacc’s narrative instills in the listener a sense of camaraderie — that we’re all in this crazy hustle together. In this day and age, songs like “I Need a Dollar” remind us we’re no different than anyone else and that EVERYONE NEEDS SOMETHING to make their ticker keep clockin’ the days. Dollars, love, family — it’s all the same in the game.
Good Things, by the way, is not out yet. It’s due on Stones Throw this fall. For now, you can check out the excellent HBO show intro here, but this “official video” for today’s Song of the Day is even better: