August Alsina Shows Tremendous Potential on ‘Testimony’
R&B newbie August Alsina shows tremendous potential on full-length debut Testimony
“The time is now” for up-and-coming New Orleans contemporary R&B singer August Alsina. 21-year old Alsina represents the new generation favoring boldness to subtlety. The brasher style fits the tales of hardships he imparts through song. “Through the pain”, Alsina finds the positives on full-length debut Testimony. Testimony is indeed a testimony.
The Testimony Begins…
“Testify” sets the tone with Alsina portraying a snapshot into his life. “Testify” isn’t the best track from Testimony, but is vital to the concept. Relatable – at least to an extent – it does allow the audience to connect.
“Make It Home” (featuring Jeezy) extends upon the opener. “I don’t always do what I should, but I do what I gotta do,” Alsina sings. He continues, adding,
“See I done dodged a couple shots, served a couple blocks / hit a couple corners tryna shake a couple cops.”
Knowing potential repercussions of risky actions, Alsina adds,
“If I don’t make it home tonight / tell my mama that I lover her…take some money to my sister.”
Incredibly realistic, “Make It Home” is superb.
“Right There” has a difficult act to follow, but successfully conveys a painful, candid narrative. The chorus repetition is gimmicky. Still, Alsina shows off his nuanced pipes and makes you cheer for his “come-up.”
“This is for the girl down the hall / misused and abused…pick your head up love, smile / this is for you.”
“You Deserve” samples L.T.D. (“Love Ballad”). “You Deserve” remains pained, but Alsina spins the message positively:
“But I’m just saying / you deserve better, I’m saying, you deserve better.”
Abused women will embrace the wisdom Alsina shares.
‘Anti-love’ song “No Love” is semi-romantic. Alsina has reservations towards relationships (“Believe we had a great night but I ain’t the type to tell you that I miss you, shit”), so there is “no love” in the relationship sense. Alsina’s idea of love lacks refinement in many eyes:
“So just wrap a couple of bands with a n–a like me / Loving ain’t the same with a n–a like me / you use to them but ain’t no loving me / I hear what you would say and girl it’s clear to see.”
Follow-up “Porn Star” is physical as expected. “She ride me like a porn star” isn’t chivalrous.
“FML” is darker. Pusha T kicks off “FML” with a bang:
“Wake up feeling like f*ck my life / life’s a b*tch, she better f*ck me right…”
Alsina plays off of it, proclaiming,
“Let me tell you ‘bout myself, I’m not scared to die / Been through so much shit, sometimes I wanna be in the sky.”
Despite the negativity, Alsina testifies on the chorus:
“I never thought I would be here, I never thought I would get this far / If they say life’s like a beach chair, why am I sitting in the dark.”
Many who use acronym FML can’t support it. Alsina has a case.
“Grind & Pray / Get Ya Money” champions the street and prayer. Alsina is spiritually motivated, but also heavily invested in the streets. On “Get Ya Money,” Alsina doesn’t fault her for being on the grind, despite how others will judge her:
“You work hard for it, it’s yours / work that body baby it’s yours / I ain’t judging you, go and get your money.”
Fabolous further chips in, “My little mama hustle harder than a lot of these n—as.” Nothing to do with the church.
Alsina shows a sense of pride that his girl is from the “Ghetto.” While Alsina slightly over-glorifies, there’s plenty of redeeming qualities and takeaways. Alsina respects the same street savvy in his own relationship, hence loving a ghetto girl. Yo Gotti assists, proclaiming,“She got a Bugatti body, yeah she a beast in the streets.”
Slow jam“Kissing On My Tattoos” possesses more substance than expected. While “Kissing On My Tattoos” is softer than most of the album, Alsina still ‘keeps it hood’. Rather than merely ‘kissing on my chest’, Alsina desires her to ‘kiss on my tattoos.’ Clearly, it’s a symbol of being a bad boy; a badass.
“Ah Yeah” goes even softer, with dedication dominating Alsina’s thoughts:
“You shine with picture perfect beauty, show it off.”
“Ah Yeah” isn’t new in concept, but it’s refreshing to see Alsina concede some of the edge.
“Mama” adds substance. On the verses, the singer lists the teachings his mother instilled:
“Mama said stay out of trouble / Mama said don’t be a fool / Mama said stay in somebody’s church / Mama said boy stay in school.”
It isn’t the most electrifying track from Testimony, but definitely meaningful and touching.
“Mama I made it… I ain’t gonna stop now cause Mama I made it / and I hope I made you proud.”
“Benediction” is stronger and equally touching. Throughout the narrative, the audience is given an account of the hardships that Alsina has endured. If one questions Alsina’s edginess, “Benediction” gives understanding. Although the hook hails from a dark place, it’s catchy:
“Started off in the streets / we would take collection from the fiends / People dyin’ all around me / So I gave you my testimony…”
Rick Ross provides a sound assist, spitting superbly over the soulful, churchy production work. It’s not all from the ‘good book’, but it is what it is.
“I Luv This Shit” (featuring Trinidad James), reprised from Alsina’s debut EP, never grows old. He continues his foul-mouthedness, but real talk mixed with the slower, horn-accentuated production is a match made in heaven.
“God dammit I love it, I love it… So I’mma keep on smoking cause I love this shit / I’mma keep on grinding cause I love this shit / she tell me keep f*cking cause I love this shit and I love it…”
“Numb” concludes the standard edition of Testimony – club style. B.o.B and Yo Gotti guest on the slickly produced number that is more swag than substance.
Ultimately, Testimony showcases the great amount of potential that August Alsina has to offer as an artist. Vocally, he has the pipes to succeed. Additionally, he has the backstory to “fuel the fire.” Testimony isn’t perfect, but it’s better more often than not. There are plenty of notable songs filled with pain and the triumph of resolve.
Gems:“Make It Home” ft. Jeezy, “FML” ft. Pusha T, “Ghetto” ft. Yo Gotti, “Benediction” ft. Rick Ross & “I Luv This Shit” ft. Trinidad James