Aloe Blacc Couldn’t Go on as a Trumpet-Playing Egbert

So I was watching one of the happy time-and-space filling Christmas afternoon holiday specials on that big day when who should pop up amid the musical segments but one Aloe Blacc. It was an interview about the meaning of Christmas, and this man of a Funny Name revealed that his father was one of 13 children.

That’s a lot of wrongly spelled Blacc’s spilled out into our world, I immediately thought on this blessed afternoon. Also: Yes, indeed, I have pinned down my subject for this here installment of The Blog of Funny Names.

And so I dove into the history of this curiously and funny-named, first-and-last, singing sensation whom I’d previously seen and raised both eyebrows over, one at a time mind you, when he was a guest mentor on one of my favorite TV singing competition shows, “The Voice.”

This gentleman was born in 1979 to Panamanian parents. (And for this and the facts to follow I thank writer Marisa Brown on and the host of ghost contributors on Alas, he was not at birth given this skin-smoothing and -cooling name of Aloe, nor the oddly but somehow mesmerizingly coded Blacc. He gave his first singing performance of “waaaah” to the world as Egbert Nathaniel Hawkins III. Great and good, a funny real first name, too, and the third straight in his family lineup of Hawkins, yet!

Growing up in Orange County in sunny southern California, young Egbert began playing a rented trumpet in the third grade. When he showed enough talent that his parents decided it was time to buy him one instead, he told an interviewer in 2010, he knew he had to take this music thing seriously, what with two previous Egbert Nathaniels to live up to in some way, shape or form. In fourth grade, he heard the music of LL Cool J. And he knew he had to take hip-hop seriously, what with the name Egbert Nathaniel to someday escape from with a new, cooler handle. When he got out of high school, he went to USC, graduated in 2001, went into the corporate world and worked for the funny name firm of EY. No, not a hip-hop label. That would be London “big-four” audit firm Ernst & Young.

Aloe Blacc, cool with a dollar. (From wikipedia)

Aloe Blacc, cool with a dollar. (From wikipedia)

Now, for some fun. Why Aloe Blacc? According to writer Reyan Ali (great first name!) of his hometown

“Aloe Blacc chose his name for smoothness’ sake: the first name references the plant associated with lotion and he exchanged the K in ‘Black’ for another C because he considers K a harsher consonant. When he was still deliberating a moniker, other names included Aeolus (which resembles Aloe) and Sirocco, two words for specific types of wind.”

Aelous Sirocco might have been better for this blog. But I can picture both of those names being used by a car company for a new model down the line now that Egbert went elsewhere, though. The 2018 Hyundai Aeolus! The 2020 Fiat Sirocco!! Unless we get our Jetsons cars first, that is. Then it will be the Spacely Sprockets Aeolus!!! The Cogsley Cogs Sirocco!!!!

Whoops. Back to his funny music names. In 1995, he had formed a hip-hop group called Emanon with a producer named Exile. Emanon is No Name spelled backward. Hip-hop being what it is, he also worked with a collective called Lootpack.

I know you wouldn't look back at me like that, woman, if I had stayed Egbert. (Getty Images)

I know you wouldn’t look back at me like that, ladies, if I had stayed Egbert. (Getty Images)

In 2003, Aloe Blacc began to concentrate on his solo career, and in 2006 he was signed to Stone Throw Records by Chris Manak, the label head who was better known throughout the business as Peanut Butter Head. (Take note, Liz!)

Blacc’s album “Shine Through” earned good reviews for “retro-soul and Latin music,” Pitchfork crediting it for “flashes of keen music interpolation.”

But his first big hit came from another album that came out that year, “Good Things.” A single from that one, “I Need a Dollar,” was so true, true, true, that it sold a million copies and was used as the theme song for the HBO show “How to Make It in America.”

Pharrell Williams, left, has the funnier hat and bigger hit, but Aloe Blacc, right earns this coveted BoFN post! (Getty Images)

Pharrell Williams, left, has the funnier hat and bigger hit, but Aloe Blacc, right earns this coveted BoFN post! (Getty Images)

After that, Blacc celebrated by joining another project with a funny name, Roseaux, write a hit song, “Wake Me Up,” with a Swedish DJ with a funny name, Avicii, and wear a funny hat in every picture taken of him. No, not quite as funny as funny-named Pharrell’s famous funny hat.


About markbialczak

Mark Bialczak is a veteran journalist. He started his blog,, in February, 2013, to write about music, entertainment, sports and life.
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39 Responses to Aloe Blacc Couldn’t Go on as a Trumpet-Playing Egbert

  1. Pingback: At the Blog of Funny Names, I offer Aloe Blacc, singer | Mark Bialczak

  2. ksbeth says:

    so funny, what great names, especially the backwards one –

  3. wdydfae says:

    Nice and all new to me! I couldn’t get any of Aloe Blacc’s Youtubes to work for me except one he did with a string quartet (I liked the voice a lot better than the arrangment), but I’ll go back in to Toob World later to try again.

    I like kazclzibkram too! It’s really fun to try to say: Kazz Kull Zibkram!

    The next time I find myself in front of a stone door, I’m going to look at it real serious, extend my palms with fingers arrayed claw-like, and say Kazz Kull Zibkram!!!

    Probably nothing will happen. But it will feel kind of neat!

    • markbialczak says:

      All the times I’ve seen Aloe sing on the big flat screen my ears have been happy, Diddy. I hope you get an online video to cooperate.

      Here’s a real-life funny story. My father actually would call his three kids our names backward, maybe after a Manhattan or two post-work. Phonetically, I was Kram Kash-Clab to him at these times. He expected the magic phrase to make me mow the lawn or take out the garbage, and it worked every time. Or else.

    • Dave says:

      Diddz, I think you’ve just started a new “thing”. Kazz Kull Zibkram!!!

      • wdydfae says:

        Uh . . . okayyyyyyy . . .

        Sure, Liz.

        And Happy New Year to yuh!

        • Liz says:

          you DID read the comments written by other people, yes? It’ll all make sense then. Happy New Year to you, too. Hope you take controls at BoFN more in 2015. Fun to see you on stage again!

          • wdydfae says:

            I did read um, Liz-berta!

            You are officially not allowed to complain about that name now.

            You know, BoFN posts are danged hard to do! Maybe you guys can pour um out like they were the most natural thing in the world, but if you check my edit history on posts, you can see I often have to keep going back and back and back to try to get it right. And that’s after I do a rough draft of um over at my place.

            I spend a month fretting over those things and sometimes start way earlier just because of it. But Dave has given me liberty to post the occassional unscheduled one, so that would be more fun and less sweat.

            You naturals just don’t understand how hard it is for regular folks to do this stuff, Liz-berta!

          • markbialczak says:

            No, Diddybertrum, the rest of us have just stopped sweating over each post so much, that’s all! Stuff happens. Imagine my old world before the edit button. Now that was type/presses roll/papers delivered/sweat rolls.

          • wdydfae says:

            Sigh. One way or another, I always get stuck with the name Liz chooses for me. Diddy was her coinage too, you know!

            ” the rest of us have just stopped sweating over each post so much”

            I think I know the feeling. It’s like writing in Comments!

            Happy New Year, MB!

          • markbialczak says:

            Happy New Year, What Do You Do For An Encore?!

          • wdydfae says:

            Liz, I only pull your ponytail because I like you so much!

            But, my first New Year’s Resolution: I’m not going to tease Liz any more.

            (Needless to say, 2014 isn’t over yet!)

          • Liz says:

            Don’t you dare stop yanking my ponytail, Didzbert. What fun would that be?

            The BoFN posts are for sure extra work and I get you because for me the hardest part is PICKING OUT THE NAME.

          • markbialczak says:

            I second that, Liz. PICKING OUT THE NAME is absolutely frightful.

  4. Nice name, nice face. Nice everything! lol

  5. kerbey says:

    You have managed to make me feel oblivious, as I have ne’er heard of this man nor the song “I Need A Dollar.” I just youtubed it, so now I’m up to date. “I need a dollar, dollar, dollar, that’s what I need…” I guess he made some by now. Fortunately, two of those can buy a gallon of gas now. Technically, I guess aloe is “smooth,” but it also spiney and prickly, so you may just need that aloe gel after you stab yourself, grabbing it. And aloe produces both gel and latex, which I think would be an even better name than Salt n Pepper. Gel n Latex.

    I also think we have discussed here (was it with Frannie?) the fact that -bert names are not sexy, Egbert included. Although what’s wrong with Egg?

    • Dave says:

      Haha, Gel n Latex is an awesome hip hop group name! I wonder if they’ll let me take some time off from med school to tour with Gel n Latex!

      And it was both Fannie and me who talked about -bert names being awesome, because -bert is the best suffix out there. I frequently just call my brother “Bert” because “Bert” is funnier than Rob. Norbert, Egbert, Englebert… the awesome list goes on!

    • markbialczak says:

      You do know how to Egg all of us on here in the BoFN commment section, that is for certain, Kerbey. I think he should have somehow combined his name and your general principal with Aloe Lotion Blacc.

  6. Dave says:

    I really really hope a question about Egbert comes up during trivia night tonight! This has been a real eye-opener. Thanks so much for sharing about this fascinating character!

  7. Liz says:

    Lizbert checking in here to say you’ve done it up right once again, Markbert! Peanut Butter Head it is then. My younger brother was called Peanut Butter when he was younger only because he was allergic to peanut butter. We should’ve just called him Paulbert. Enjoyed your post as I’m always learning something new. And even Kerbey’s (Kerbeybert?) comment enlightened me because of course she is thinking about the prickly aloe plant as she lives closer to that there dessert. In the Midwest, I only buy aloe in lotion form.

    • markbialczak says:

      I just wish you would have called your brother Peanut Butter Head, Lizbert, but I guess the allergy potentially swelling said head up to the size of a real life Mister Peanut was fear and loathing enough.

      Yeah, leave it to Kerbeybert to think of the Aloe Plant with all of the spindly and sticky stuff will the rest of we berts went straight to the cool thoughts of the lotion. You think it’s because we rush out for the first rays each summer and burn the crap out of ourselves and need the aloe cooling factor?

    • wdydfae says:

      I think Lizberta is the proper inflection for a feminine name. Let’s be grammatical here.

  8. Dave says:

    I can’t believe I missed the Ernst & Young note the first time reading this… that’s an impressive job, and makes Aloe an even more impressive guy!

  9. Look at what I missed taking time off during the holidays. It looks like I have some catching up to do.

    Great post Mark! Hadn’t heard of Aloe Blacc before.

    Not sure I can work the same magic as Wdydfae with the Kazz Kull Zibkram, but it’s got to be worth a shot. 😉

  10. kerbey says:

    Happy Birthday, Aloe Blacc!

  11. Outlier Babe says:

    Hey, Mark, this was a fun and interesting post! Think I’ll stop back and peruse some more of these funny-name thingies. Interesting idea, and a great fallback when you’re stuck for a post–esp. if you have the research and writing chops to follow through on it, which you do.

    My mom dated seriously a guy named Leslie Mandeville Addison III, and her daughter, my sister Macy Girl, had for her first boyfriend a young man named Leslie Amy.

    Talk about your boys named Sue!

    • markbialczak says:

      I bet they both were extra manly to make up for it, Babe!

      Thanks for your kind words about my Funny Names post. I hope you clicked over to the official Blog of Funny Names. I am the newest recruited writer of a whole talented crew that’s been doing this for years. It’s very entertaining over there. Chops galore!

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