Aloe Blacc: 'I limit my consumption to the point people call me Mr Frugal'

Interview,Adam Jacques
Sunday 23 October 2011 01:58

Artists like 50 Cent made me stop rapping I felt there was too much opulence, braggadocio and misogyny in hip-hop, and I wanted to tell a different story. What happened is that the music got corporatised; industry executives sacrificed art for what sells and mega-stars now saturate the market with the same tired lyrics.

Music critics think of lyrics first and don't consider melody but so many songs are lyrically depressing but musically great, and that's why they become classics. With my single [top-10 hit "I Need a Dollar"] a nine-year-old, say, won't have that experience of needing a dollar, but will love it because of its energy and melody.

I don't need a lot of things I limit my consumption to the point people around me call me Mr Frugal. I don't wear jewellery, I bought my Volvo second-hand and my laptop too. I just can't justify [buying new things] any more unless I absolutely have to.

There is blood on every product that we buy We don't think about the resources used in them, but we are stripping them away from places where people live, many of whom are marginalised as they don't have a role in this global economy. Capitalism needs to be more compassionate and recognise that in South America, say, there are indigenous people who live off the trees we are tearing down for cheap furniture. So what I want to do is find or develop an organisation that monitors the number of human-rights violations because of products that we buy.

People need to spread love towards strangers We all bleed the same blood and we are all part of a global community now. Somebody's struggle 10,000 miles away is just as much your struggle. We could solve so many issues – starvation, homelessness, wars – if we just approached each issue like a mother would approach helping her child, with complete unconditional love.

America's biggest export is media and I think that's a positive thing. People in the Middle East may consider the US an evil hegemony that has tainted their culture, but when I look at the growth of racial and ethnic tolerance and understanding in my generation in the US, and see those sentiments make it around the world, it makes me feel proud.

I didn't celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden We need to recognise that a human being had been killed. The families of the people who died in 9/11 may have felt that justice was done, but it's still a life, and we need to take the moment to mourn all the deaths, not just the 3,000 or so US citizens but the 10,000 or so in the Middle East who are dying for whatever reason it is that America is still in Afghanistan.

I've become more introverted as I've got older I used to be an outgoing person who joked around a lot, but as the amount of energy I expend by sharing my music has increased, I like to balance it by spending time by myself and recuperating.

Teaching makes me happy I was with my nephew recently, showing him how to ride a bike and he asked me to remove the training wheels. I said, if you take them off, you can't go back. For the first time he got to feel the exhilaration of propelling himself.

Money equals responsibility I want to use my cool to sell my music, get sponsorships from organisations that want to use my cool and then divert the money I get into projects for homeless children. We are all part of a global tribe and the strongest warrior needs to bring back the buffalo and share it with the people who need it most.

Aloe Blacc's album, 'Good Things', is out now. He is performing at the Summer Series at Somerset House, London WC2, on 10 July ,,

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