Aloe Blacc

After establishing himself as one half of indie duo Emanon and in quickie Stones Throw spots, CA-based Aloe Blacc's self-produced trials of hip-hop, soothing electro, and sparse salsa rhythms on Shine Through seldom mature in error. His capable pipes on "Want Me" ooze with seductive multiple harmonies dressed in mischievous fleshy synths and house sensibility. Against the bewitching, reflective hip-hop of "Caged Birdsong" or the Forever Changes brass-and-folk of "Nascimento (Birth) — Scene II," Aloe spreads himself out across the spectrum in lavish, unpredictable compositions (two of which are molded by Madlib and Oh No). Though he dabbles somewhat in the transparent sexual bravado that wounded Mr. Lif's recent LP, Aloe mostly disregards any suggestion of what he should do. Instead his work is often uplifting, and he sings occasionally in Spanish, brushing off genre constraints and doing whatever comes naturally.

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Dominic Umile