“I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc

In Aloe Blacc approaches “I Need a Dollar” from the perspective of a down-and-out individual, who is in serious need of “a dollar”. This would point to the fact that he is in a dire economic state. Indeed the lyrics insinuate that this is indeed the reality of his immediate surroundings.

Verse 1

Thus in the first verse, we find him more or less begging for help. He implies that his current situation may be attributable to making mistakes in the past.  And the overall sentiment reads more along the lines of needing a supportive friend in general than financial aid per se.  In fact Blacc himself has stated that the intent of this song is “more about looking for a helping hand, not necessarily a financial hand”.

Verse 2

During the second verse he seems to be speaking as a different character.  However, he is in a similar predicament as the first. More specifically, he has been laid off from the job which he was logically dependent on, despite pleading with his employer not to let him go. And this section is actually based on Blacc’s real-life experience, as he lost a job as a business consultant due to company downsizing. It was after his job loss that he took his music career seriously.

Verse 3

The third verse then has Blacc portraying himself as an alcoholic – for lack of a better word. That is to say that he is willing to ‘spend his last dime’ on booze and perceives it as a relief from the mundaneness and stagnation that has come to define his life. Indeed this particular character obviously has a job yet toils for unsatisfactory compensation. And the associated depression has convinced him that such a poor lifestyle may indeed be his destiny.


All of these different narratives ultimately point back to the overall feeling of hopelessness this song is meant to relay. Indeed even how the singer is going to survive tomorrow is a complete mystery to and concern for him. And he can be interpreted as someone who is monetarily destitute and/or devoid of any palpable hope for the future. Thus his true requirement, as implied by the title, is for someone to help him get through this difficult time.

"I Need a Dollar" lyrics


Blacc wrote this song after he was made redundant. Furthermore, he once said this song came from listening to old recordings of singing chain gangs, i.e. prisoners chained together who were forced to do arduous labor.

Globally Successful Track

“I Need a Dollar” charted internationally, including topping the Ultratop 50 (Belgium), Media Forest (Israel) and UK R&B Singles.

It also made the top 5 in these countries:

  •  Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Switzerland

 “I Need a Dollar” received a lot of exposure, which contributed to its success, by being played during the intro of the HBO hit comedy series “How to Make It in America”.

Cover Versions of “I Need a Dollar”

By virtue of its success, “I Need a Dollar” has been covered by a number of hip-hop artists, including the following:

  • Mac Miller
  • MGK
  • T.I.

Release Date of “I Need a Dollar” 

Blacc released this song as the second single from his second full-length album, “Good Things”, on 16 March 2010.

Did Aloe Blacc write “I Need a Dollar”?

Yes. Nathaniel Dawkins (aka Aloe Blacc) wrote this song  with help from songwriter Nick Movshon and the following producers (who actually produced the track):

  •  Jeff Dynamite
  • Leon Michels

Music Videos

This song has two different videos, one shot in New York and the other in Las Vegas. The latter was directed by Derek Pike. Below is one of the two videos. The other can be found in the middle of this post.

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