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Aloe Blacc Brings Soul to Art Basel Miami Beach

Aloe Blacc and Blaqstarr at the Giant Step party last night at the Mondrian, Miami, Photo Credit: Diana Levine
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Aloe Blacc wrapped up his 2010 U.S. tour at the Mondrian in Miami Beach last night, headlining the very special SVEDKA Vodka Session, presented by Giant Step as part of Art Basel 2010. Monopoly money covered the stage, floor and bar in honor of the recent success of Aloe's hit 'I Need a Dollar.'

Aloe Blacc has gone from indie artist to critically acclaimed soul man almost overnight, considering his song was chosen as the intro to HBO's new series 'How To Make It In America.' Since Blacc's album 'Good Things' released in September, he's been compared over and over again to the likes of Marvin Gaye. Yet he remains humble and genuine in both his lyrics and his character.

The crooner brings infectious, positive energy to the stage, smoothly blending soul, funk, R&B and even a little reggae. His beaming smile carries a rhythm of its own and his old school dance moves would have made him a smash hit on 'Soul Train.' These are not typical traits of today's well-known artists. In times of recession, many chart-toppers are choosing to create head-bobbing dance music with lyrics about the high life that seem out of touch with present day circumstances. But Aloe has moved away from his self-representing hip-hop days (as half of the duo Emanon) and has decided to start calling it like he sees it. His ability to mix honest social and political observations with feel good music is gaining him both respect and popularity as nostalgia from the early '70s sets in.

Aloe Blacc and the Grand Scheme opened the show with 'Hey There Brother' from 'Good Things'. Dancing and jigging on stage, Aloe asked the crowd, "Are you ready for some soul tonight?" as he transitioned to Al Green's 'Love and Happiness'. "You see, I want to carry on the tradition of soul. People like Al Green, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye," said Aloe with a wink and a smile. The performer paid tribute to several other artists in between sharing original tracks off his new album. He performed partial covers by Velvet Underground, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, and Hall & Oats, all with a soulful Blacc twist. He even gave a surprising original rendition of 'Basket Case' by Green Day.

Of course, the big hit of the night was his performance of 'I Need a Dollar.' The crowd vibed and sang along to what will surely become a classic hit of the decade. Aloe and his band closed out the show with popular The Mommas and the Papas hit 'All The Leaves Are Brown,' because, as he put it, the song reminds the band of their native L.A.

Aloe seems to be finding his footing in music. With a European tour kicking off in January 2011, there will be much anticipation regarding how this soul man's style matures in the months to come.

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