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Born to Panamanian parents in Los Angeles in 1979, E. Nathaniel Dawkins (aka Aloe Blacc) first began playing trumpet in elementary school, and continued with the instrument throughout high school. There he also independently released Imaginary Friends, produced by DJ Exile, with whom he would go on to form the hip-hop group Emanon. While at college at USC, though his artistic endeavors were placed behind his scholastic goals, Aloe still managed to learn how to play the guitar and the piano, and after graduating and spending some time in the corporate world, he decided to return to his first love, music. In 2005 Emanon's full-length debut, The Waiting Room, came out on Shaman Works, and the next year his first solo album, Shine Through, a combination of retro-soul and Latin music, was released on Stones Throw. He partnered with the Truth & Soul Productions crew for 2010's more organic effort Good Things. The album featured the single "I Need a Dollar," which reached the Top Ten in several countries, including the U.K. and Germany. The song was licensed for use as the theme song to the HBO show How to Make It in America. In 2013, Aloe co-wrote and fronted Avicii's "Wake Me Up," an international smash hit that reached the Top Five of Billboard's Hot 100. His third album, Lift Your Spirit, was released in some territories later that year. In the U.S., it was issued through Interscope in early 2014. ~ Marisa Brown