A Southern California native born to Panamanian parents, Blacc was raised on boundary-pushing hip-hop acts like Public Enemy, The Pharcyde, and De La Soul, and developed a fierce admiration for such soul musicians as Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and folk-rock singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor. “I got interested in folk and soul because of the songwriting,” he says. “Especially with folk, I was really drawn to the way those artists turned their songs into storytelling.”
Carefully crafting lyrics to create impactful music has been essential to Blacc since high school, when he first broke into the indie hip-hop scene. Back then Blacc and his partner DJ Exile formed a duo named Emanon and quickly became cult favorites in Los Angeles, largely due to their heavy inventiveness in working with jazz samples and breakbeat loops. Going solo in 2003, Blacc soon signed to indie label Stones Throw and transformed from rapper to singer—albeit without shedding his hip-hop spirit or sense of social consciousness. Three years after the release of his solo debut Shine Through, Blacc began work on the record that would change his life and career: Good Things, an album certified gold in the UK, France, Germany, and Australia, among other countries.
“Wake Me Up” having sold more than 2.8 million copies in the U.S., Blacc notes that one of his main ambitions is to use his surging popularity to affect social change while continuing to infuse his music with a mindful positivity. “What it comes down to in my songwriting is trying to tell the story of the underdog and all the obstacles they have to overcome in this life,” says Blacc of the songs that make up Lift Your Spirit and his overall body of work. “The stories in my songs are about the common individual and all the struggles they’re dealing with everyday, and also all the hopes and aspirations that they have. It’s about reflecting all of that, and at the same time getting people to sing along and feel good."