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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 12:58 am

VINYL STATIC

Meet Aloe Blacc; the Roots hit the Pageant Theatre

CD EXCHANGE: With R. Kelly busy basking in the glow of his mesmerizing car wreck of a miniseries, Trapped in the Closet, the R&B world has hit a bit of a drought when it comes to male singers. However, this week an album emerged that may have fans of the soulful sire saying, “TP who?” Meet Aloe Blacc, a Stones Throw Records affiliate and MC for the hip-hop duo Emanon. Blacc’s solo album Shine Through, released July 11, features an assortment of heaping scoops of sugary-sweet, uplifting soul set to an array of hip-hop beats, Latin-inspired sounds, acoustic guitar, and soul rhythms. The cover art depicts Blacc affectionately looking up to a light, his eyes smiling. You can tell that for the Southern California singer/MC/multiinstrumentalist/producer, life is good. Blacc’s glowing face reflects the mood of the album: hopeful, genuine, and joyful. He chooses to wax poetic on simple matters. Take “Busking,” an ode to the perils of taking public transportation: He’s late, he’s got a date — where’s the dang bus? On “One Inna” Blacc offers a smooth alto that soars to Prince-like heights over the thick soul grooves provided by indie wunderkind Madlib. Unfortunately, in the game of happy tunes, joyful optimism can slip into schmaltz, and on “I’m Beautiful” Blacc is guilty as charged. When he croons the chorus, “I’m beautiful/and special/and I think it’s about time to tell you this/I’m gonna be the best me that I know how to be,” Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley comes to mind. And so it goes with positive thinkers: There are always cynics to rain on the parade. But as it appears from the aforementioned tunes, nothing’s going to break Blacc’s stride — except maybe a bus.
SHOWS-A-GO-GO! Steady, rhythmic flows from Black Thought and an on-time boom-boom-bap from ?uestlove’s drumsticks can mean just one thing: The Roots are coming to town — not our town, but St. Louis’ Pageant Theatre is close enough that the drive is well worth it. The July 27 showcase will feature the organic styling of the Pharcyde, an LA hip-hop group, formed in the ’90s, that has influenced the show’s headliners. The revolutionary MC Talib Kweli rounds out the bill for a full evening of the finest from the underground. Kweli releases Eardrum this summer, and the Roots’ highly anticipated album, Game Theory, will be out on the Def Jam label this August. 
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