Aloe Blacc, Maya Jupiter Perform, Discuss Inspiration

He’s the man, he’s the man, he’s the man. 

Grammy-nominee Aloe Blacc and his wife, hip-hop artist and songwriter Maya Jupiter, performed for a small but lively crowd in Scripps College’s Balch Auditorium Feb. 28. The event was put on in honor of Black History Month, an effort on the part of SCORE in collaboration with a number of other clubs and organizations. 

The close
quarters of the venue created a striking intimacy for the
performance, which served as both a concert and a discussion as Blacc and Jupiter spoke candidly about their work, going into detail about
each song they performed. They elaborated on changes in each other’s
lives that have informed both their songwriting and personal lives, including
their relationships with family members, parenthood and love.

“Hearing
both of them sing together was really special because it felt both intimate and
personal,” Karen Kandamby PZ ’15 said. “I felt lucky enough to have witnessed it.” 

Such emotion was especially tangible when Jupiter had to turn and collect herself after the
song “El
Secreto,” which featured Jupiter’s grandfather talking about marriage and love.

Jupiter’s
work combined smooth violin harmonies, rain-like percussion and soulful lyrics that often transformed into a mantra of sorts. Her mix of cultures in both her own lineage and music came through to
the audience. While most students in the audience came to see Blacc, many found that Jupiter stole the show. 

“I
was really surprised by Maya Jupiter,” Herman Gallo PZ ’17 said. “I didn’t know too much
about her and I hadn’t heard her music before, but it was
really interesting for her parents to be Mexican and Turkish, yet she grew up in
Australia.”

Kandamby also appreciated Jupiter’s musings about her diversity of heritage and music. 

“My favorite part was hearing about Maya’s grandfather and her identity as a Turkish-Mexican-Australian hip-hop artist, she said. “I myself identify as Mexican-Sri Lankan, and it was great hearing her perspective of growing up with different cultures in her home.”

Jupiter performed in songs that highlighted such diverse
cultural tradition and rich notes, in one moment swaying to her
chorus and in the next showcasing her love of hip-hop, as each of her songs had
a rap element. One of her
songs, “That Ain’t Me” exemplifies
how the artist expresses her ideas through hip-hop. The song emphasizes the fact that women should not feel the need to over-sexualize themselves to
draw attention to their talent. 

“My daughter is watching this, learning
that to be a woman is to please a man,” she said.

“That Ain’t
Me” rejects that idea entirely, though. It was an electric performance
that highlighted her hip-hop abilities in a fun, enthusiastic performance full
of dancing, as both Jupiter and the ensemble rocked out.

In contrast to Jupiter’s music tracing her roots, Blacc’s “Wake
Me Up” was inspired by incredible change in his life as he found himself a guest in Europe, treated to
five-star hotels, first class seats in airplanes, personal escorts to the plane
and finally someone to greet him at his destination. His experience was a
stark contrast to his time as an independent artist.

Explaining this, he leaned over to Jupiter and said, “Wake me up when it’s all over.”

While the concert featured relatively few songs, Blacc and Jupiter spent a lot of time explaining each one by discussing the various inspirations and
causes that informed their work, such as the portrayal of women in the media, immigration and the school-prison
pipeline.

“His talk about immigration really resonated with me, and he
really incorporates that into his music—and Maya Jupiter does as well,” Gallo said. “My parents both immigrated, so I felt a really close
connection with his music and I really felt his emotions. What he feels is a
lot of what I feel as a first-generation person in the U.S.”

Blacc and Jupiter both emphasized their decisions to lend their voices and
publicity to causes they believe worth supporting: “Because we believe,” Blacc said, “there are people who should have a much bigger platform to
spread their positive messages of change.”

They seek to collaborate musically
with artists who share the same ideals as them and spend hours volunteering for
causes they believe in. Aloe Blacc’s album, Lift
Your Spirits: Higher
, is full of songs informed by important messages.

After the performances, Quetzal Flores and Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Latina/o Studies Martha Gonzalez—musicians in the Grammy award-winning band Quetzal—and Victoria Verlezza, Interim Director of Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment, joined the
couple on stage for a question-and-answer session.

 Gonzalez met Jupiter through their mutual backgrounds in music, and the two have maintained a close relationship since. The two often inspire each other to push their creative boundaries, and Jupiter calls their friendship a “life-changing experience.”

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