This week, Cory speaks to musician, businessman and philanthropist Aloe Blacc, who is best known for his hit singles, “I Need A Dollar”, “The Man” and writing and performing vocals on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”. In this weeks episode, Aloe takes us back to his teenage years, telling us the defining moment when he went from corporate America to landing a record deal and then he offers advice for how young people should feasibly follow their passions. Later in the episode, he very interestingly touches on the current intersection of technology clashing with music and what he thinks the future of streaming will be like.
“I think anything that you love to do; you should always just continue to do it because (it will) fulfill yourself, (and) your proficiency in that activity will grow.”
Aloe Blacc (@aloeblacc) always loved music; he just didn’t think he had a future in it while in high school or even college. After being laid off from a corporate job, Aloe began to dedicate himself to his music and shifted from a rapper to a singer. It was a good choice. Aloe had breakthrough hits in “Wake Me Up,” which he co-wrote with Avicii, and “The Man” in 2013. The music video for “Wake Me Up” has over 1.4B views on YouTube, and “The Man” played in the background for several Beats by Dr. Dre commercials featuring Kevin Garnett, Colin Kaepernick, Richard Sherman, and Cesc Fabregas.
Cory Levy (After School, Internapalooza) talks with Aloe Blacc on OFF RCRD Episode 11 about his journey as a musician and his advice for fellow musicians and singers along with young people trying to figure out what to do with their lives. “For young people who are trying to figure out what they want to do, there’s probably something you’re already doing that you’re really good at and that you love. I’d say, keep doing that. Even if it’s not a career path right now, it could end up being something that is, number one, just fulfilling to your soul, and number two, could end up being something that yields your life’s income,” says Aloe.
Aloe’s path to becoming a Grammy-nominated artist for Best R&B Album in 2015 was anything but traditional. “I’m not a trained singer. I am a rapper and MC, and hip-hop is in my life’s blood, but when I got signed to this Indie Label, they wanted me to be a vocalist. I took that on and I thought, “It can only make me a better artist.” It ended up being true and it also ended up being my career path and my stability in life in terms of financial stability and being able to make so many other dreams come true. Not just my own, but other people around me,” says Aloe.
By being willing to be uncomfortable and try new things, Aloe was able to find where the best fit in the industry instead of only pursuing a career as a rapper, which may have resulted in missing many of the opportunities he has taken advantage of in his career.
For those trying to start a career, Aloe’s advice is to do what you love. “If you’re young right now…whatever it is that makes you really, really smile, and that you would do, whether you’re being paid or not, that’s something to really focus on and hone in on. Those are the things that will sustain you in the long run.”
Cory and Aloe begin talking about what Aloe was like as a teenager. “I spent a lot of time on the weekends even on the weekdays after school, writing and recording songs with my friends.”
How Aloe built up a local following for his music by the time he graduated high school although he didn’t consider music as a possible career
How being laid off helped inspire Aloe to pursue his passion–music
The one thing Aloe would pinpoint as the biggest reason he’s had success in the music industry
Aloe’s advice for young people trying to figure out what they should do
How Aloe manages his time. “Find the times that you work best.”
“Your inspiration, your goals, and your focus can be impractical. One day you can show the world how practical it is.”
How Aloe markets his music. Hint: he doesn’t try to market to everyone, or even potential fans. Listen at:
Who Aloe works with and looks up to in music
Why Aloe despises being forced to tour in order to build a fanbase, and why it’s still absolutely necessary
Aloe answers the question: “What’s something you know you should do but you haven’t done yet, but that you’re working on?”
How Aloe sees music and technology interacting together in the future
What Aloe would tell his younger self
Aloe asks and answers his own interesting question at
Why philanthropy is important to Aloe Blacc and what organizations he supports