New Orleans native August Alsina doesn’t fit the stereotype of your ‘regular up-and-coming R&B male singer’. Quite the opposite, he’s entirely out of their league. That was my initial thought upon hearing his much anticipated debut album ‘Testimony‘ last week.
Having followed August’s career for quite a while, I hadn’t yet got round to listening to his previous mix tapes properly, I preferred to wait for his debut album – and it was well worth the wait. One thing that immediately struck me when I listened to August’s music, is the genuine authenticity of his lyrics, coupled with the pain and anguish of a cathartic story of someone who has been through a lot, perhaps more than others.
August is an artist with a backstory similar to that of many rappers, except he delivers the vivid facts of his life and journey as an R&B singer instead, yet without the typical, standard style of his peers and with a poetic grittiness that outshines his various counterparts. It’s like witnessing the beginning of a new age of male singer-songwriters who drop the various self-indulgent vices that come with a career in a music, and instead focus on the story, and the motivational journey of discovering their true purpose in life.
The track that reaffirms this the most is LP opener, ‘Testify’, where the album concept is consistently reiterated, as August talks about his journey, through a world of drugs, a world of steering clear of prison but getting kicked out of his mother’s house, whilst watching his father and step-father battle drug addiction, but most telling of all, is how he discusses the death of his older brother, who got shot, an event August constantly portrays, the anguish and devastation still fresh and raw.
Similarly, both ‘Make It Home‘ and ‘Benediction‘ (the latter of which features rapper Rick Ross) picks up where the album opener left off, as August tells touchingly of how he’s changed since his brother died, as he reiterates the fact that he’ll never go back to the person he was before. It’s clear that despite his age (he’s only twenty-one), August’s feet are firmly placed on the ground, as he continues to do his best. ‘Mama’ shows that August has substance to back up his debut offering, as he sings a moving ode to his mother after instilling all of her teachings and ultimately surviving, “Mama I made it, and I hope I made you proud,” he says.
‘Right There’ is one of my favourites on the album, yet despite being a difficult act to the follow, it still conveys the thought provoking narrative that was evident in the first few tracks, on first listen I wasn’t a fan of the repetitive, slightly auto-tuned use of “Right There” in the chorus, but evidently it contributes heavily to the finished piece. Up next is ‘You Deserve’ and ‘No Love,’ where August makes it clear that he’s not quite ready to settle down as he cautions those looking at him for love, “Girl, I think it’s best for me to say this, I ain’t no good,” he says, as he expresses how he see’s more for the girl’s interested, and that they poignantly deserve better than what he is offering, “You deserve all that and more,” he reiterates, ‘Don’t come looking for love,” he continues.
‘Porn Star’ also fits the element of this side of August, as he steers clear of the four-letter word and any act of romance or contemporary chivalry, despite pre-warning those who try to get involved. However, an almost oxymoron of the aforementioned tracks is ‘Kissing On My Tattoos‘ where August suggests that he doesn’t want anyone else with him, except for “The One,” which conveys that when the time is right, he’ll express his gratitude and be loyal.
Another highlight of the album, is dual track ‘Grind And Pray/Get Ya Money‘ where August continues to champion his drive to succeed, reliant on his lessons from life on the street and the power of prayer, exemplifying the way he knows how hard it is to make something of yourself.
Overall, the album is an accurate ‘Testimony’ to August’s true potential, so to speak, the honesty is somewhat unmatched, with a turbulent yet educating backstory of his pursuit and rise to the success that he so rightly deserves. Combined with his voice and ambition to make it, it seems like August Alsina just can’t do any wrong.
To download August Alsina’s ‘Testimony’ on iTunes click here.