Aloe Blacc is one of a growing number of musicians who have busked their way through the West Coast rap scene, only to find their voice when they evolved into something else. For this Orange County, Calif., native, that evolution led to soulful music. Born Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins, the Panamanian American emerged in the late '90s as one-half of Emanon. (His partner in Emanon, DJ Exile, is a recognized producer in his own right.) After releasing several 12-inch singles, Emanon issued The Waiting Room in 2005. Aloe Blacc had already begun developing solo material, but his 2006 debut, Shine Through, was a pleasant surprise. Rapping and singing in English and Spanish amidst a heady mix of Afro-Cuban, neo-soul and indie rap sounds, Blacc delighted and baffled listeners. For his next disc, 2010's Good Things, Blacc decided on a simpler formula, sticking to sung vocals and an emotive retro-soul sound co-authored with the musicians at New York-based Truth & Soul Productions. Its first single, "I Need a Dollar," was an underground hit and was used as the theme for HBO's comedy How to Make It in America.