[R&B/HIP-HOP] Much like fine wine and heartbreak, Shine
Through's Latin- and Afro-flavored tunes get better over time. It
initially strikes as too shifty a composition, with each track serving
a loose blend of soul, salsa, dancehall, calypso, roots, folk,
electronica and hip-hop. But squash the need to classify and one would
find a sound that is complex, and reflects a certain freedom only found
nowadays in deeply rooted, independent endeavors.
After all, so what if it's emo-techno-Gregorian-bluegrass, as long as it drives party people to cut some serious rug?
The Panamanian-born Aloe Blacc produced most of the album, which
debuted on Stones Throw Records last year. The off-kilter, culturally
relevant Southern California label is best known for funk and soul
artists like Breakestra and Dudley Perkins, and indie hip-hop faves
Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, Lootpack and the late Jay Dee.
No stranger to hip-hop, Aloe first began his music career as an MC
and the other half of Emanon. But in his solo effort he manages to
develop a groove that is soulful, sensual and ahead of his mainstream
peers. Already having garnered some iconic comparisons from music
critics and nods from tastemakers like Gilles Peterson, the album buzz
also earned him a "Liquid Love" remix for the Roy Ayers Virgin Ubiquity
Shine Through kicks off with melodious synthesizers in "Whole
World," followed by a bevy of dance floor bangers, bedroom rockers and
raw Latin rhythms. "Long Time Coming" is a distant rendition of a Sam
Cooke 1960's classic, "A Change is Gonna Come." Dancehall vocals wrap
up broken-beats inspired "Are You Ready" while Aloe does a sparsely
digital treatment over butter-smooth vocals in "Arrive," written about
a lover's moment before climax.
It's officially been added to my APR collection, as in Audio Panty
Remover—a term I regretfully did not originate. "Want Me" doesn't get
the same accolades, however, spoiled by rap vocals at the end that
constitute of "This ain't a love song; I'm trying to put it on you." I
admire the candor but it's not exactly sexy. But he does redeem himself
with the poignancy of "Inna," produced by label mate Madlib;
percussion-rich "Patria Mia," an ode to his Panamanian roots, and "I'm
Beautiful," a lovely ballad dedicated to his young niece.
"Caged Birdsong's" stripped down bass line and heavy lyrical lashing
are inspired by a Maya Angelou novel. One of the two bonus tracks is
"Gente Ordinaria," a beautiful, salsa remix of John Legend's "Ordinary
People," which I have sheepishly grown to like more than the original.
The classic layers of trumpets, percussions and sweet Spanish vocals
give the arrangement an instant vintage feel. —Stones Throw Records
For more info, visit aloeblacc.com or myspace.com/aloeblaccmusic. MTW