Aloe Blacc – Billie Jean Cover

by | May 14, 2012 | Sound | 2 comments

Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III, known as Aloe Blacc, exists on the fringes of the mainstream music industry. If it wasn’t for the friend of a friend passing on a copy of his 2010 album Good Things, he would probably wouldn’t have registered on my radar. The song he is most known for is I Need A Dollar, which is also the opening title track for the US television series, How To Make It In America. Catchy and relevant, I Need A Dollar is one of those songs that just lingers with a hook that takes some doing to get out of your head once it lodges itself in there.

It seems he started out as a rapper but I reckon that, with his distinct voice and perspective, we are all fortunate that he made the shift to R&B / soul. He is one of those artists I hope is able to break through the noise and establish a career that is fruitful, long and fulfilling. Randomly browsing recently, I came across this video of Blacc covering Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean with a string quintet. It is such a beautiful version of the song, I had to share beyond the normal tweeting and stuff.

The potential for disaster is high when covering a song that has been a significant part of the soundtrack to millions of lives, especially the song of an artist like Michael Jackson. I truly believe Aloe Blacc does it justice and hope he gets greater recognition in future. He deserves it.



  1. Molete Mathaba

    Finally! I’ve been wondering for a hot minute know who sings “I need a dollar.” I will make a note to check out this brotha’s music

  2. Ayob Vania

    Ntate Baffoe, I don’t think I have ever thanked you for this post even though we’ve talked about it a couple of times.

    Aloe Blac’s cover of Billie Jean has been on high rotation in the soundtrack of my life since reading this article in 2012. I was so taken by it that I have tried to listen to as much of his work that I can find as possible, including his work in Alt French band Rouseux and hi collaboration with producer Exile under the group name Emanon.

    In 2017 when I first started working in radio I went so far as to base a whole feature for the show I was producing on what Aloe’s did with Billie Jean.

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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