written by Carla Bynum
Alsina first entered our hearts in 2007 as the young kid who sang covers of our favorite songs on YouTube but now he plans to take over as the prince of R&B. He has taken his life lessons and relayed them into his debut studio album Testimony, released on April 15.
Alsina grew up in the violence ridden streets of New Orleans where he watched both his biological father and step father battle crack cocaine addictions.
In search of a fresh start, his mother moved the family to Houston, Texas following Hurricane Katrina. Alsina’s time in Houston was short-lived after his mother kicked him out of the house at the age of 16. He then relocated to his hometown of New Orleans where he sometimes didn’t even have a place to lay his head. He turned to a life of drug-dealing and robbery to make ends meet.
Following the tragic death of his older brother in 2010, Alsina decided to take his music career seriously and prove his naysayers wrong. He moved to Atlanta to pursue his dreams and soon released his debut mixtape The Product in 2012, which caught the attention of Def Jam Records. The following year, he released the follow up The Product 2 as a part of DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz series.
The same year he released the EP Downtown: Life Under the Gun where he goes into detail about life in New Orleans.
Grind and Pray
Testimony kicks off with the track “Testify” where Alsina gives a brief overview into his childhood in one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Life in New Orleans proved to be far from glamorous but that didn’t stop him from reaching for the stars.
“Right There” is a relatable account of how he remembers grinding only to have nothing to show for it. In “You Deserve” Alsina tells his girl that even if she doesn’t end up with him, she deserves the best of everything.
“There ain’t no love in me,” he sings in “No Love.” He admits to his romantic shortcomings and insists if you’re looking for love, you won’t find it with him. On the flip side, he expresses his admiration for a certain special lady who shines with picture perfect beauty in “Ah Yeah.”
“Mama” is an ode to his mother and the lessons she taught him over the years.
I could have been locked up
I could have been got down
But I found my own way
I ain't gonna stop now
Cause mama I made it
And I hope I'll make you proud
While most of Testimony focuses on Alsina’s life growing up in the streets of New Orleans, he flaunts his freaky side on songs such as “Porn Star” and “Kissin’ On My Tattoos.” He isn’t shy about letting his female listeners know exactly what he wants done to him. He likes to be kissed on his tattoos but he especially likes it when “she ride me like a porn star.”
Stamp of Approval/Collaborations (understated rappers)
It’s pretty rare for a newbie on the scene to receive a stamp of approval from a series of other artists so soon but the many collaborations on Testimony proves that isn’t the case for Alsina.
Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy offers his assistance on the single “Make It Home,” where August makes a few simple requests if he doesn’t make it home. “If I don’t make it home tonight, tell my mother that I love her, leave some flowers for my brother, send some money to my sister,” he sings.
G.O.O.D. Music artist Pusha T raps on the track “FML,” which is an acronym for fuck my life. Both talk about running out of hope and trying to find their way.
August swaps newcomer Rich Homie Quan for Memphis rapper Yo Gotti in the song “Ghetto,” his ode to ghetto girls.
Maybach Music frontman Rick Ross lends a hand on “Benediction.”
“I pray you free me from my demons and keep me level,” Alsina sings on the track as he recalls all the things that should have held him back but didn’t.
Rappers B.o.B. and Yo Gotti join Alsina on “Numb,” a feel good song about having too much fun and too much to drink.
“As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, if I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take,” August prays at the beginning of “Grind & Pray/Get Ya Money” featuring New Yorker Fabolous. The extended version of “Grind & Play” is available as a bonus track on the deluxe version of the album while “Get Ya Money” is a familiar track that can be heard on August’s mixtape The Product 2.
“I Luv This Shit” is the song that first introduced a lot of people to August Alsina. As if the certified gold single wasn’t hot already, the deluxe version of the album features the extremely sexy remix featuring fellow singers Chris Brown and Trey Songz.
Alsina is a breath of fresh air. He’s not the usual R&B singer who boasts about all his sexual escapades and the girls he has. Instead, he sings about his struggles and how he overcame them to become one of the top new artists. Testimony is an inspirational album.
Overall, I give Testimony a B+.
Recommended Tracks: “Make It Home,” “Testify,” “Kissin on My Tattoos,” “Benediction,” “Numb”