Check out August Alsina’s latest interview with DOPE Magazine.
In an era of formulaic imitators, infamous fakes, and improbable posers copycatting whomever is hot and popular – Singer August Alsina has a true story and trill style all his own. We here at DOPE MAG call it Street Soul, a rich but real cauldron stirred by the very New Orleans streets the gritty but grounded 20-year-old heartthrob was born to bling about. August sits down with Arionne Alyssa for a cool convo while his breakout hit “I Luv This Sh!t”, and viral smash “Shoot or Die”, heat the streets, run radio, and keep the clubs on Cîroc restock.
(Arionne Alyssa: AA) You’re from New Orleans, which has always been a place rich in music at the core of its culture. Growing up, how did Nola shape you as a person and later, as an artist?
(August Alsina: August) New Orleans made me who I am today. I lost my brother there, I lost my father there, and you know… that’s always going to be a part of me. Just the culture and the way we do things made me the way I am and it made my music what it is. It’s such a lifestyle place, which makes my music so lifestyle and gives me different topics to talk about. Know what I’m sayin’?
(AA) I know much of your ambition and drive comes from personal tragedy. How do you use that to fuel you every day?
(August) It’s my motivation. I gotta do it for the squad, I gotta do it for my family, I gotta do it for New Orleans. I do this to show people that it’s possible to come from the bottom, to come from nothing, and to be something. I have three nieces that my brother left here and they don’t have a father anymore so somebody has to take care of them. I love music but it’s also a way for me to provide for my family and be a part of changing the world. For people to see a person like me and where I come from doing this, it’ll make you say – “Well, damn, homie doing it, so I can do it, too.”
(AA) Since you mentioned changing the world and making a bigger impact, there are unfortunately way too many of us that have experienced similar tragedies resulting from gun violence in neighborhoods all over the country. How do you think we can work to inspire the youth to take a route that’s different from violence, so that hopefully, one day there will be fewer of us with that story?
(August) I think by doing exactly what I’m doing right now. For me to continue doing what I’m doing. It’s all about people seeing, because they say you have to see it to believe it. So I feel like once a person sees, “Man, August is just like me. Maybe I can try this or do it this way” and like you said, it’s about taking different routes, but we have to show it.
(AA) One of the cool things about your music is that you put a lot of depth into your smooth sound and although its R&B, it’s still very edgy and Hip Hop inspired. How do you maintain that balance?
(August) You know, that’s a great question. I don’t know (Laughs!). It’s just me. It’s just what I do and what I feel musically. Of course, it’s also the squad and the team that’s around me, but it’s just what I feel, what I’m inspired to do on the beat, and what I’ve been through. I just speak what I’ve experienced.
(AA) Everyone is loving your latest video – “I Luv This Sh!t” – with Trinidad James. It looked like it was a lot of fun to create. What was it like recording that song and then filming the video?
(August) It was hella fun. I had the song for about six months before I even gave it to Trinidad. When I heard Trinidad’s single “All Gold [Everything]” he embodied what my song was about so it was a no brainer for me to go get him on it. Me and Trinidad have mutual friends, we go to the same tattoo shop, so we got in contact. I was in the studio with Curren$y, he came through and holla’d at me, I gave him the record, he got it back to me and boom! Next thing you know, I played it for Def Jam and they were ready to shoot the video. Trinidad also had a part in creating the treatment. That’s why it was so turn’t up and looked fun because it was (Laughs!). We had a good time.
(AA) What other game changers do you have on “The Product II”?
(August) Man, if I told you… (Laughs!)… My goal for the “The Product II” is to make this sound like an album and I was recently listening to it and it sounds like it could be an album. I can say that about it. I’ma do about 12, maybe 13 tracks.
(AA) Although you’ve been doing this music thing for a while, your recent recognition has really been through the roof. What perk or DOPE experience have you had in your music career that you’ve always wanted?
(August) (reflects, collects… ) You know what? Sway! Shout out to him. He tweeted out the video and we chopped it up over Twitter. That’s cool to me because Sway is pretty much a legend in this business. He’s a hustler, he’s a go-getter, and I respect him. That’s probably the coolest, most recent thing that’s happened
(AA) Conversely, on the opposite end of that, what would be the pinnacle you always wanted to reach in your music career that has yet to happen?
(August) Um, I don’t really think that there’s anything that can make me say that. I can’t talk about what I’ve always wanted because I never thought that I’d be right here in this position. I don’t really live thinking, “I want this to happen,” I live like, “I know I gotta hustle so whatever’s gonna come out of it is going to come out of it and that’s the way I got here. It was never, “I need to go get a record deal.” It just happened and that was the way that God put it together. Whatever God wants for me is exactly what I want for myself.
(AA) That’s an awesome way to look at it. I’m going to quote you for a minute: “Hate…jealousy.. envy.. They’re all just confirmation that you’re doing you just the way you should and that you’re doing it just right.” How do you handle your haters?
(August) I honestly just don’t give a f-ck, period (Laughs!). I just do me and really, if they weren’t hatin’, then I’d have a problem. With me just knowing what I do and being comfortable with the projects that I’ve released and knowing that I stay true, humble, and loyal to myself, it ain’t nothing that you can tell me. Even with some of the comments that people may make, it’s nothing that you can tell me to make me feel like what I’m doing ain’t right because I know that it’s me and you can’t tell me how to do me. I’m the only muthafucka that’s me! I honestly just don’t care.
(AA) Money, women, fame – there are several things that come with success in the music industry. What matters most to you?
(August) I really could care less about the women. I could care less about the fame for sure. I could care less about the money… but let me speak on that. This is a way for me to provide for myself, but I do it because I love it. Even if money didn’t come from this, I would still do this music sh!t because it’s a way for me to escape. That may sound cliché, but it’s real. I know how to do two things: I know how to sing and I know how to sell DOPE. With selling DOPE, I would end up dead or in jail, one of the two, so why not do this music? God blessed me with the gift and the opportunity, so why not do it? But what’s most important to me is really the people – the art, the people, and giving the people my art and showing them that a person like me, and the rest of y’all, can do it. I was homeless last year. God does everything for a reason and I know that I went through the experiences that I went through in my life for a reason, good and bad. God put me in this position to show people. Its power in the fact that a person was homeless just last year and now is signed to Def Jam and has an amazing video out. That’s stupid to me. That’s real. That’s crazy. It still hasn’t even registered to me yet.
(AA) Since you’re open and you share yourself and your story, your fans really connect with you as a person. What’s something your fans may not know about you?
(August) It’s funny you say that I’m open because it’s a struggle that I’ve been dealing with since I started doing music. It’s a lotta sh!t that people ain’t heard and it gets deeper and deeper and deeper into who I am and where I came from. On the album you really get that. The songs make you visualize exactly where I was, what I was doing – sh!t that I shouldn’t have been doing, but that’s how I was getting by. I always struggle with just that because of the judgment [that comes with it]. It’s like, “How much do I give to the world?” but at a certain point, you’re cheating yourself and you’re cheating the people if you ain’t keeping it all 100. I guess that all I can really say is that people get caught up into TV and radio, and they only know what they see. They hear me saying (sings) “I’mma keep on drinkin’ cuz I love this sh!t. I’mma keep on smokin’ cuz I love this sh!t” so that’s all you hear so that’s all that you see. I’m just telling you my life and about me. I guess when people get so caught up into that, they get blinded and forget that I’m a human being and I’m a child of God. It’s just a lot of sh!t that they miss.