On last week’s Hot 100 chart, Aloe Blacc’s single “The Man” reached a new peak at No. 16, after blasting into the Top 20 last month when the chest-thumping anthem was paired with a high-profile Beats By Dre ad. “The Man” is currently higher on the tally than Avicii’s single “Wake Me Up” — the blistering EDM track which features uncredited vocals by Blacc, and peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 chart.
Blacc may not have gotten a chart credit on the Avicii collaboration, but “The Man” is helping him make moves as a solo artist ahead of the Mar. 11 release of his third studio album, “Lift Your Spirit.”
“What’s really nice is that people were familiar with my voice and my songwriting, and a lot of people were familiar with it because of the success of ‘Wake Me Up,'” Blacc told Billboard earlier this month before a performance at the NBA All-Star pregame concert in New Orleans. “I think that has something to do with what’s working with ‘The Man.’ A lot of people have been primed to appreciate my voice and my songwriting.”
“Lift Your Spirit” is the follow-up to 2010’s “Good Things,” which featured the breakout hit “I Need a Dollar,” and is the 35-year-old California native’s debut full-length for XIX Recordings/Interscope Records. “It feels like a whole new existence,” says Blacc about joining a major label roster. “Before, as an indie artist, I would just make songs in my bedroom. I have hundreds of songs sitting in my hard drive that will never see the light of day. But now, I can think of an idea and know that it will reach people in a few months. It’s a great confirmation.”
Blacc also points out that, without his new connection to Interscope Records and label head Jimmy Iovine, “The Man” would never have been used in the Beats campaign, which featured ads in which athletes like Kevin Garnett and Colin Kaepernick strode forward in slow-motion as Blacc’s confident message soundtracked their moves. Blacc says that Iovine, who also established Beats in 2008 with Dr. Dre, personally called him to ask if he could use “The Man” in the commercials, and that the singer-songwriter was “ecstatic” with the finished product.
Bruno Mars also contacted Blacc to offer a spot on an upcoming leg of his long-running Moonshine Jungle tour (Blacc will join the arena trek on May 27), after Mars revealed himself to be a fan of “I Need a Dollar.” “He had been playing it during his show in a medley of songs,” says Blacc of Mars, “and I guess, over time, decided that my stock was worthy of an invitation for his tour. I’m super honored to be able to perform on his tour. It’s a big opportunity for me, and a blessing that he recognized my music.”
Blacc says that his label has been taking him “everywhere” to support “Lift Your Spirit” — along with the NBA All-Star pregame performance, the singer delivered the national anthem at the Daytona 500 last weekend, and will perform at Coachella in April. In the center of the scattered appearances is an extremely likable album that includes Blacc’s own version of “Wake Me Up” as well as “The Man.”
“What I want to do with music is make people happy,” says Blacc. “So every song, save for maybe one, is about something that could potentially lift your spirit. I did a song with Pharrell Williams called ‘Love Is the Answer.’ I did a song with Rock Mafia called ‘Ticking Bomb,’ which is not necessarily a lifting-your-spirit theme, but I also like to make songs that are socially and politically aware. That was a song I wrote about the conflict in Congo, which is a resources conflict that’s affecting a lot of people in that environment.”
With “The Man” creeping into the upper reaches of the Hot 100, is Blacc already thinking about his next radio offering? “I think the next single may be ‘Can You Do This,’ but there’s no real way to tell,” he says. “I thought the first single was going to be ‘Love is the Answer,’ and then we went and had this big television commercial that changed everything. So we’ll see. I don’t know what the next single is going to be, and I sort of feel like the fans will decide once the album’s out. Whatever everybody’s gravitating toward, that’s what we’ll follow up with.”