Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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August Alsina: Hotter Than July

August Alsina
August Alsina August Alsina August Alsina August Alsina

Described as âan inspirational tale of surviving one of Americaâs most treacherous citesâ, âTestimonyâ - the debut album from New Orleans-born-and-raised ârough-around-the-edgesâ R&B singer/songwriter August Alsina - finds the 21-year-old Def Jam Recordings artist hooking up with such modern-day rap talent as Jeezy, Pusha T, Fabolous and Rick Ross on a 15-track set currently pioneered by the party-flavoured Southern bounce of its B.o.B and Yo Gotti-featuring new offshoot single âNumbâ.

Indeed, dedicated to Augustâs older brother Melvin LaBranch III who was tragically gunned down on the New Orleans streets in 2010 just days before Alsinaâs eighteenth birthday (the murder remains unsolved) and featuring production input from the likes of The Featherstones, Knucklehead, Jasper Cameron, Eric Hudson and DJ Mustard, âTestimonyâ (whose motivational undercurrent graphically deals with real-life past family issues including death, homelessness and addiction) boasts musical moods ranging from the sexual slow-grind of last yearâs Trinidad James-featuring US R&B Top Five smash âI Luv This Shitâ and the bleak, sombre resignation of the Jeezy-featuring âMake It Homeâ to the haunting hip hop/soul of the Rick Ross-featuring âBenedictionâ and the lilting romance of the R&B ballad âKissinâ On My Tattoosâ.

Born August Anthony Alsina on September 3, 1992 in the aforementioned New Orleans, Louisiana into a non-musical family, August was nevertheless inspired to sing early on by watching Lauryn Hill in the movie âSister Act 2â before, with both his father and stepfather battling crack addiction, being moved to Houston, Texas in 2005 by his mother who was in search of a fresh start. Meanwhile, with his father dying shortly afterwards and his older brother being killed in 2010, a now-more-committed-to-music Alsina would in 2011 find himself relocating to the musical hotbed of Atlanta, Georgia. Following which April 2012 would see him putting out his first mixtape âThe Productâ before summer 2013 (following three further mixtapes) would eventually find him releasing his first EP âDowntown: Life Under The Gunâ, which in turn also marked his first release through his current label-home of Def Jam.

⦠Which conveniently brings us back to today and the release of the aforementioned âTestimonyâ. As a quietly-spoken, bespectacled and behatted Mr. Alsina greets âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis in the exclusive W Lounge of Central Londonâs super-fashionable five-star W Hotel for a revealingly-honest introductory chat.

Naming his debut album âTestimonyâ

âI guess itâs pretty self-explanatory, man. In that itâs basically my story, my background, my culture, and where I come from in the form of a NOVEL. And usually what happens when somebody gives a testimony is that someone else gets inspired by your STORY. Which, in my heart of all hearts, is what I really hope happens with this ALBUM!⦠So yeah, in a nutshell thatâs why I titled it âTESTIMONYâ!â

What August feels heâs bringing to the game musically

âWhat I wanted to achieve musically is authenticity in terms of my sound while also ensuring that it has a certain vibe thatâs UNEXPLAINABLE - you know, something that you gotta FEEL as opposed to being able to EXPLAIN... So yeah, as I say, basically I just really went into it with the typea mind-frame where I wanted to make sure above all that the actual FEEL was there - that you could feel my PAIN, you could feel where Iâm COMING from, and that you could visualise everything that Iâm singing as if you were there with me at that exact MOMENT.â

His ideas on what heâs bringing lyrically

âLyrically man I just give the Godâs-honest-TRUTH! I give every part of me, every piece of my soul - the good, the bad AND the ugly! You know, whether you like it or not, I give the WHOLE truth and nothing BUT the truth! So that if you know me and you have a feel for my story already then youâll know exactly what Iâm talking about because it is very DEEP. And if you DONâT already know me then itâs like youâll GET to know EVERY PIECE of me through this ALBUM!â

The album âTestimonyâ and single âNumb feat. B.o.B and Yo Gottiâ are both out now through NNTME/Def Jam Recordings.

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