The reason the XXL editorial team fought so hard to get August Alsina on their annually anticipated Freshman class list for 2014 is because his verses are lyrical and true to the street; as far as raw, real-raps go; the difference is they’re in melody. He’s doing a Drake without the autotune and riding the wave in slow — most notably on topics far less fantastical than the inner workings of his love life.
Manny the news guy at XXL said on Hot 97, in regards to putting R&B on the Freshman (typically rap list) “I was with it, initially it was like hmm, but then it made sense because we are hip hop on a higher level, that’s our thing; it meant that we had to show the growth of hip hop and August Alsina, he made sense.”
Executive producer, Ebro Darden added “Singing has always been a part of hip hop” and went on to call those expecting strictly bars in ‘HIP HOP’, “Hip Hop purists”. Peter Rosenberg objected passively.
I met Lloyd’s DJ, Kelo, last year in Wellington before I knew about August and he was shocked we were still booking Chingy, he couldn’t say Lloyd, obviously. He was even more sad for me because I hadn’t heard of August yet. The next time I came across August was a 4/20 session over summer with my home girl whom I shall not name. She introduced me too squeegees — we’ll be friends forever and thus, I will always love August. So factor this into my critique.
SWAY: What kind of energy are you going to keep bringing to your music? Because I know, you sing about love, you sing about girls and all those things but what other kind of energy…
AUGUST: I mean, I can only sing about real shit man and what I done been through, ya heard me, like it’s so much shit that go on besides, fucking some bitches. It’s a whole…it’s real life out hea; and I think, you know, people kind of miss that…especially with singers sometimes man because they wants us to be so, yeah, just (clenches palms is) so bubble gum and shit. (Extends hand out) and they scared how people gon’ react. But fuck that, it’s real out chea.”
On May 5th, Testimony sat at fourth on the Hot New Hip Hop chart, underneath Pharell’s GIRL and infront of the Marshall Mathers LP 2 and YG, My Crazy Life. The dude’s doing something right.
There are tracks from his EP Downtown that made it with him to Testimony BUT reworked — also it would be a shame for Numb fans to never hear Ghetto feat Yo Gotti or I Luv This Shit feat Trinidad James.
I love ‘Testimony’ because the 20-year-old, if he keeps at it, will influence not only R&B and pop, but rap music too; like Isaiah Rashad said at the round table,
“He sing (Chance the Rapper), he sing (Kevin Gates), he sing (Vic Mensa), I sing, he (August) just may not rap as much.”
August said it good too: “To me what hip hop is, is like, a ni**a’s struggle and a ni**a’s story, where he truly come from — who you are as a person — as a man. I do that in my music. I tell my real story — I put on for the hood. I was homeless just a few years ago and now I’m here. I’m blessed.”
Here’s his freestyle:
Other R&B Gangstas to remember:
(In no particular order)
Lyfe Jennings (My ultimate favourite R&B Gangsta)