HO HO WHO: Aloe Blacc, the rapper-turned-singer who, somewhere between “[needing] a dollar” on 2010’s breakout R&B album Good Things and pairing with EDM superstar Avicii for 2013 hit “Wake Me Up,” has become the second-coming of a Nat King Cole-style bearer of blissful tidings through song.
NAT KING BLACC?: Continuing the theme from above, Blacc’s four-song Aloe Blacc Christmas EP features Blacc’s takes on four of beloved crooner Cole’s yuletide classics. The best of the lot is his take on “The Christmas Song,” in which Blacc’s smooth and sonorous tenor doesn’t reinvent the song, but does succeed in making the listener remember Cole’s legendary version of the song. Blacc’s “Christmas Song” updates that iconic connection between artist and song for the modern era.
A CHRISTMAS REMEMBRANCE: Aloe Blacc’s a progressive-minded rapper at his core, so it’s a bit strange that “Merry Christmas, Mr. Brown”—the just-released song about Michael Brown and others who have lost their lives at the hands of police—is absent. Whereas Aloe Blacc Christmas is a peaceful collection of tunes, this one single counterbalances the other four. Blacc’s ability to be a sync-licensing champion of a corporate pitchman may be quite apparent via his YouTube page, but in balancing his commercial edge with social activism, he showcases why he’s a pop-crossover superstar who doesn’t just sing soulfully; he has a soul, too.
CHEER FACTOR: 6/10. If you want a change of pace this holiday season without changing the vibe, mood, or expectation of your favorite holiday tunes, Blacc’s dependably excellent in that regard.