Although a honeyed voice reminiscent of Sam Cooke and lyrics that recall Gil Scott-Heron provide evidence to the contrary, Aloe Blacc is a fairly recent arrival on the scene. He might have only just crossed into his 30s, but his ascension to soul stardom was swift. His song “I Need a Dollar” was chosen as the theme to HBO's How to Make It in America last fall, and his debut album, Good Things, on the ever-stellar Stones Throw label, recently was certified gold in France. Good things don't come easy, though: In his teens, he got his hands dirty in the beat lab with L.A.'s mad scientist Exile as the hip-hop group Emanon. Even singing of the shadowy alleys of a capitalist society and the litter the last economic recession left behind, he doesn't bring you down. Just like the golden-voiced gods of soulful protest that came before him, he makes even the struggle sound sublime.

Aloe Blacc performs Sun., May 22, 8 p.m., at the Music Box. All ages.

LA Weekly